Quincy Animal Shelter Shares its Story With Animal Lovers in New England

Volunteer-run Quincy Animal Shelter is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that has placed more than 7,000 cats and dogs into loving homes throughout MA and greater New England. With a "strict" no kill policy of any adoptable animal, the shelter strives to exercise the same ethical, humane treatment of animals in its facility that anyone would for their own feline and canine pets at home.

This type of care involves many volunteers, active and dedicated management - and a lot of money. With a budget running around $250,000 every year, the shelter has survived, and thrived, on the impassioned support of the Boston community.

Behind every animal organization, there are countless tales of the empowerment gained from unconditional love. We spoke to President of the Board of Directors Bre-anne Harris about what inspired her to get involved.

"On December 26, 2005 I adopted a deaf Dalmatian, Pongo, from a shelter in my hometown. At that time, Pongo had spent most of his life in and out the shelter as his prior homes were not the right fit for him; thankfully the shelter took good care of him," says Harris.

"What I didn't know at the time was that I needed Pongo as much as he needed me. What I learned from Pongo was a lot about myself and even more about what I had to give," Harris explains. "Seeing the dedication this shelter had for Pongo and the other animals inspired me to get involved in the local cause and help other animals that were not yet in their forever homes."

Harris began volunteering as a dog walker at the Quincy Animal Shelter in 2008, subsequently joining the Canine Team, Canine Training Team, and finally the Adoptions Team. Shortly after this, she began leading fundraising events around the community. Harris was fulfilling her vision through helping the animals of Quincy find their human caregivers.

"Pongo got sick and passed away in June of 2011, but he and his story continue to inspire me every day," says Harris. "When I was ready to get back to it, I started getting involved with QAS and helping with some events. I joined the Board of Directors in January of 2014."

In September of that same year, Harris was elected President of the Board of Directors at QAS. She began working tirelessly to help homeless, neglected, and abused animals on a different level with the same love, passion, and tenacity as before.

QAS has been able to shape so many lives because of their volunteers' willingness to step up and go the extra mile when needed. Harris herself stepped up for 26.6 miles in the Boston Marathon, surpassing her original fundraising goal of $5,000 to bring in over $11,000 dollars for the organization.

A self-described "complete klutz and least-athletic person in history," Harris helped countless animals find loving homes on that day. After struggling with shin splints and compartment syndrome, Harris fought through physical therapy to compete in the Marathon. Her husband stood waiting for her at the finish line that day. "It was the most amazing thing I have ever done," says Harris. The true source of motivation behind her success story has to be the animals out there like Pongo, the shelter pet who meant so much to her.

Harris crossed the finish line, but QAS always has a constant battle ahead. "We rely solely on donations from our generous supporters to be able to do what we do. The general care and medical needs of our animals while they are in-between homes and our overall operating costs have grown to almost $250k annually. Costs will always increase and we will continue to grow but that means so will our need for donations," says Harris

In February 2014, Harris and her husband adopted a Golden Retriever named Dexter from QAS. Dexter and his older brother Ducky, an English Springer-Spaniel, are the love of their lives. "We may not have room in our home for more dogs but we certainly have the love in our hearts to help others," says Harris.

QAS is now celebrating its sixteenth year of successfully rescuing homeless animals, and it's up to Harris and other dedicated people, to ensure sure that this success continues.

With this kind of "dogged" determination, QAS is primed to continue its labor of love for years to come.

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