By JOHN HOWELL House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi doesn't play golf, nor do Judy Salvadore or Steve and Audrey Snow. Yet all four of them were on the deck of the Quidnessett Country Club Monday evening surrounded by golfers, many of who are legislators.
House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi doesn’t play golf, nor do Judy Salvadore or Steve and Audrey Snow. Yet all four of them were on the deck of the Quidnessett Country Club Monday evening surrounded by golfers, many of who are legislators.
What the four have in common is a love of dogs and cats and of those who rescue and care for them.
Shekarchi did more than articulate his support for animal rescue groups. He sponsored the first annual Shekarchi Scramble golf tournament followed by an elaborate sit-down dinner to benefit three local organizations.
The event not only came at the right time for the Friends of the Warwick Animal Shelter, but will enable the all-volunteer group to continue its work.
Salvadore, president of the Friends, was counting on their annual car show to raise the funds for veterinary care, equipment and other services not covered by the Warwick Animal Shelter budget. But the pandemic and regulations on the size of gatherings threw the Friends a curve ball they weren’t expecting. The show had to be canceled.
“When one door closes, another opens,” Salvadore said when asked what she thought when Shekarchi told her of the golfing event. Now, as it’s turned out, golf – or, at least, an event hosted by the Speaker of the House – promises to be bigger than a car show. Salvadore said the car show usually raises $10,000 of the Friends’ $40,000 budget.
Shekarchi plans to give 50 percent of funds raised by the scramble, more than $15,000, to the Friends. The other half of the money will be split between two other animal rescue groups – SOS Animal Rescue League and Vintage Pet Rescue.
“They do God’s work,” Shekarchi said of the rescue organizations.
While the Warwick Animal Shelter does not bring in dogs from kill shelters that are largely based in the south for adoption, Salvadore said it has a steady stream of strays as well as abandoned cats and dogs. One cat, she said, was dropped off at the shelter after having been found in a hotel room.
The Friends was founded in 2001 and played a significant role in promoting a bond issue that was overwhelmingly approved by voters for the construction of a new animal shelter.
“Whatever the shelter can’t pay, we pay,” said Salvadore bringing nods from Steve and Audrey Snow, who both serve on the Friends’ board of directors.
Among improvements the Friends have underwritten are air conditioning for the room where cats are housed, epoxy flooring for the cat room, and an exterior surveillance system that has put an end to people dumping unwanted animal off at the shelter during night hours.
Salvadore can’t remember how long she’s chaired the Friends’ board, maybe 10 years. But she said the organization is focused on the goal of assisting the shelter and finding homes for the animals.
Following the shutdown, as was experienced across the country, adoptions increased. Salvadore recalls last Christmas Eve being an extraordinary day since all adoptable shelter dogs and cats had been placed in homes. As Salvadore and Kirstin Burdett, a board member of Vintage Pet Rescue, noted, fears that pets would be left after people returned to work have not materialized.
Shekarchi, who adopted his dog from STARS Rescue, was pleased to learn of the news. He plans on sponsoring the scramble next year and raising more funds. He will be looking to spread the wealth with other animal rescue groups.