Rhode Islanders love their pets

Rhode Islanders love their pets...and other animals!

The Foundation currently has 12 funds that generous Rhode Islanders have established for the humane treatment and protection of animals. These funds, established as early as 1942, collectively enable the Foundation to take a leading role on animal welfare issues, with funded programs including humane education efforts and low-cost spay and neuter initiatives. In the last 10 years alone, the Program for Animal Welfare (PAW) has awarded more than $3.7 million to 68 organizations.

Early funding from PAW brought together the animal welfare groups that are members of Ocean State Animal Coalition (OSAC), a nonprofit organization established in 2007 to improve the status and well-being of animals in Rhode Island. Annual grants have supported its work to reduce the homeless, abandoned, and feral animal populations in Rhode Island.

One way OSAC accomplishes this goal is through its Rhode Island Community Spay/Neuter Clinic in Warwick which provides high quality, high volume spay-neuter services for dogs and cats to address pet overpopulation; the Clinic reached a milestone in January, 2016 when staff performed the 40,000th surgery.

"Making these services affordable and accessible are key to our mission. The Program for Animal Welfare has been highly supportive in helping us assist pet owners who cannot afford even our low fees," states Liz Skrobisch, executive director of OSAC, noting that the Clinic also serves shelters and rescue organizations and provides a transport van that "is on the road all the time, from Westerly to Woonsocket to Tiverton and towns in-between."

Tails to Teach, a PAW-funded organization focusing on humane education,   encourages the development of kindness, compassion, and empathy in children through its school-based programs. Founded in 2011 by Laura Carlson, Tails To Teach provides pet-assisted therapy in under-served urban schools; to date, it has reached more than three-quarters of Providence fourth graders. 

Laura, who has worked in the animal health and welfare field for more than 25 years, believes "if people knew better, they'd do better" in their treatment of animals. "I wanted to work proactively to combat abuse and neglect. I thought it was vital to work with kids."

After Laura and her certified therapy dogs, Maggie and Juno, complete the four-session, hands-on program, Laura invites the students to write a letter to the dogs. "I've found that the dogs really bring out the kids' empathy and compassion," she says.

Of Foundation support, Laura states emphatically, "We wouldn't exist without the Rhode Island Foundation." She notes that the Foundation took a chance on a new organization and has provided annual support to help the program expand to additional schools.

The Program for Animal Welfare is made up of the following 12 funds: Rosa Anne Grosvenor Fund (established in 1942), Virginia B. Butler Fund (1978), Abbie A. Brougham Memorial Fund (1988), Ilon Sillman/Sara Andrews Endowment Fund (1997), Helen Walker Raleigh Fund for Animals (2006), Dawn, Gregg and Leland Weingeroff Animal Fund (2006), Mary Lou Crandall Fund (2006), Vinny Animal Welfare Fund (2009), Jeanne Marie Mehmed Fund (2012), Vernon and Mary Pierce Fund (2013), Ginger, Sheba and Susie Carr Fund (2013), and Chariho-Westerly Animal Rescue League Animal Welfare Fund (2014).


One Union Station
Providence, RI 02903


(401) 274-4564

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