Our Mission

Stand Up For Animals is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support the needs of our state-of-the-art animal shelter, adoption center and regional outreach facility to promote the health and welfare of lost or abandoned pets and to educate and assist those who care for them.

“I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being.”

Abraham Lincoln

Who We Are and What We do.....

Stand Up For Animals is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support the needs of our state-of-the-art animal shelter, adoption center and regional outreach facility to promote the health and welfare of lost or abandoned pets and to educate and assist those who care for them.   We rely solely on donations from generous individuals, businesses, and foundations to support our work to provide compassionate care, medical treatment, and humane education.   Funds raised are used to provide financial support to families in our community that incur unexpected emergency medical pet expenses, that need animal training/assessments to correct behavioral issues, to educate school aged children on animal welfare and safety and to support the needs of our state of the art animal shelter facility that we built for the Town of Westerly.

Spotlight on a few of our 2019 successes and most recent efforts to support those affected by COVID-19

  • Created our Neighbors Helping Furry Friends initiative to help people that have found that COVID -19 has left them needing help for their pets.  We have been providing pet food for families that are in financial need or homebound.  If someone needs food, they can email us at [email protected] and let us know. We have also been buying food and stocking the pet pantries at Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center along with RI Center Assisting Those In Need.  We are concerned that without this resource, we will see an increase in lost and abandoned animals as people find themselves having difficulty financially feeding and providing for them.
  • Educate the community – presented 43 classes totaling $5,625.00 and reaching over 1,350 future pet owners at the elementary, middle and high school level on responsible pet ownership for 2019.  We also offered a SUFA sponsored summer camp program through the Ocean Community YMCA.
  • Support our local community (Stonington, Westerly and surrounding towns) with emergency medical pet care through the Chariho Westerly Animal Welfare Committee. Since 2018, we’ve contributed approximately $30,000 in pet medical emergencies for local community families that needed help. In addition, we also participate in a catch, spay/neuter release program for feral cats plus we provide dry and wet cat food for many feral cat colonies in the area. In 2019 alone, we spent over $4,500 and had 48 cats spayed/neutered and spent over $1,000 in cat food for feral cats.
  • Continue to provide support to The Westerly Animal Shelter by providing specialized animal behavior assessment on an as needed basis to shelter dogs.  Also, yearly, we contribute $20,000 to the Veterinary’s salary and clinic medicine for all shelter pets.
  • Improve our dog park- installed a new sprinkler system and added pavilions in all of the dog park enclosures to provide shade.
  • Improve the shelter facility;
    • Installed supplemental heaters in the dog runs and isolation area to provide greater comfort in the cold months.
    • Added a gated area around the Animal Control Officer’s parking area to prevent an animal from escaping and running into the road.
    • Installed cat portals that turn two cages into one larger one, giving the cats more living space while they’re waiting for their new families.
    • Added a TV in the cat sanctuary, so they have entertainment watching birds, squirrels, frogs…
  • Partner with Dr. John Turco and the Westerly Animal Shelter in offering a low-cost clinic that’s open to the community every Thursday by appointment. The clinic offers services such as annual exams, vaccinations, heart-worm testing, dental cleaning, and spay and neutering.
  • Provide Martingale Collars for the Super Dog Adoption Days and to the shelter dogs adopted through the Westerly Animal Shelter; over 550 Martingale Collars donated in 2018 and 2019, totaling just over $4,000.

Our Vision

In 2009, Stand Up For Animals (SUFA) and Westerly Animal Shelter worked together to provide a new, state-of-the-art facility for the rescue, adoption and care of animals.

Our vision is to create a place where animals will be treated with compassion and dignity; where suffering and abuse will not be tolerated; where education and understanding will play an integral role in eliminating overpopulation, animal cruelty and abandonment; where every possible effort is made to return an animal to its owner, or to place that animal in a new, safe and loving home. Take a tour of this wonderful facility ~ view here



Since 2009, SUFA’s modern animal care facility & shelter has served Westerly and surrounding areas.


Since 2017, SUFA’s Dog Park has been a place of fun and excitement for owners and pets alike to the town of Westerly.

Our Goals

SUFA has several core goals that are more than just buzzwords. They’re at the center of our operations and care for all animals we meet.


To operate, care for and provide a 7,200 sq-ft animal shelter, adoption center and regional resource center.

All Pets

To never turn a lost, abandoned or unwanted pet away.

Bring Them Home

To make every effort to return a homeless pet to its owner or find that animal a new, safe and loving home.

Healthy & Safe

To ensure that all our animals are healthy and have been spayed or neutered before being placed in their new homes.

Safe & Sound

To offer short-term, low-cost or no-cost boarding for pets belonging to victims of domestic abuse to keep them sheltered away from the abuser.

Support Services

To establish support services for pet owners in need, most commonly the elderly who find themselves in the hospital or a nursing home for short-term care.

Protect From Disaster

To provide a safe haven for pets during a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, for those people who have been evacuated and cannot take their pets.


To be a resource center to the community by providing information and education on basic pet care, health issues such as caring for an elderly animal, as well as spaying and neutering to decrease overpopulation, adopting the right pet for your family, dog obedience and safety around pets and local wildlife.

Provide a Place for Play

To provide a dog park for the public to bring their well-behaved, vaccinated and licensed dogs for fun and exercise.


To work in cooperation with the Town of Westerly and other agencies to promote animal health and welfare.

Linda Calouro

Office Assistant

[email protected]

Michele Vidmar

Community Liaison

[email protected]

Deb Turrisi

Executive Director

[email protected]

Our Board & Officers

The board is made up of a group of people who volunteer their time and expertise to ensure that our mission and vision become a reality. We would like to include you in our efforts, and anyone else with an interest in making a better life for animals.

Our new building… the culmination of years of plans and dreams.

Incorporated in 2002, Stand Up For Animals founders, attorney Larry Hirsch, and his wife Kay, Animal Control Officer, Tom Gulluscio and Rep. Peter Lewiss set out on an intrepid path to put an end to animal cruelty and suffering, which has become so commonplace, so underreported, so misunderstood, and so heartbreaking.

Their vision was to build a new animal shelter to replace the aging, over-crowded and under equipped shelter owned by the Town of Westerly. This innovative idea–to work in cooperation with the Town of Westerly, to build the most up-to-date, efficient, animal friendly, and people friendly shelter began to take shape.

Stand Up For Animals would raise the funds to build their own new animal shelter to replace the Town’s aging shelter. The Town of Westerly would step up to the plate and enter into a $1 a year, 99 year lease with Stand Up For Animals on a suitable piece of land. The Town of Westerly, in turn for being able to have an office in Stand Up For Animals’ new building and have access to a portion of the kennels for their impounded animals, would agree to pay all the utilities, including water, sewer, electricity, heating, as well as outside maintenance of lawn care and snow plowing. The Town of Westerly would also pay the salaries to two animal control officers, and two kennel workers. It’s a collaborative plan that could not fail!

Our building committee worked closely with William Kite Architects, Inc. and Parker Thompson, Inc. to design a building that would meet the needs of our community and enable Stand Up For Animals to carry out the programs that will work to put an end to animal cruelty and suffering. A critical design element of the new building is its ability to serve as an emergency shelter during a hurricane or other natural disaster, this component to the building has become crucial to our community in light of the horrific events of the Gulf hurricanes of years prior.



Building Committee Members

Debbi Bammer, Committee Co-Chair
Business Owner
Point & Click Computer Training

Howard Thorp, Committee Co-Chair
Thorp & Trainer Insurance

Raymond Cherenzia
Cherenzia & Associates

Peter Kaschuluk
Former Director of Emergency Preparedness
Town of Westerly

Stephen D. Morgan
Stephen D. Morgan Housewrights, Inc

Thomas J. Gulluscio, Jr
Animal Control Officer
Town of Westerly

Advisors to the Building Committee

William Kite and Kyle Bamrick of William Kite Architects, Inc.

Glenn Parker, John Machado, and John Murdock of Parker Thompson, Inc.

Tim Regan of Cherenzia & Associates, Ltd.

Legal Counsel (Pro Bono)
Thomas J. Liguori, Jr.