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No Paws Left Behind Seeking to Continue Sonsini's Mission
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
01:04PM / Monday, January 08, 2024
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Noelle Howland, manager of the former Sonsini Animal Shelter, has been raising funds for a new shelter to be located in North County.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The former Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter is gearing up to relaunch under a new name once it secures a location.

No Paws Left Behind hopes to open in North Adams, carrying on the no-kill shelter's legacy of homing cats and dogs. The Sonsini shelter announced its closing last summer and manager Noelle Howland saved it by taking leadership.

"We're pretty much ready to go but I just don't have a location yet," Howland said.

The municipal shelter in North Adam's Department of Public Works building is a possible location, she said, but it is a multi-step process that has not yet been set in stone. She added that there are "so many pieces that have to go together" for it to be 100 percent.

When the former location on Crane Avenue shut down at the end of August, Howland said space was a main need, specifically more room for outdoor and indoor kennels, a separate space for the cats not located in the office, and a meet-and-greet space.

All of the animals found homes before its closing, except for Knight the American pit bull mix, the last resident who found a happy home not long after.

Howland started a crowdfunding campaign that has raised more than $53,000 toward the effort since July 30 and has held separate fundraising events.

Articles of incorporation have been filed with the state for No Paws Left Behind Inc. and the shelter is awaiting verification from the Internal Revenue Service for a 501c(3) non-profit designation.

A 13-member board has been meeting, each person with a different specialty, such as grant writer. The Eleanor Sonsini board, which decided to close the facility due to financial constraints and insufficient space, had only three members.

Bonnie Howland, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' director of student financial services and a board member of Northern Berkshire United Way, is serving as president. Also on the board is Crystal Wojcik, the finance director and accountant for the town of Adams.

The shelter also launched a website with sections for adopting, donating, volunteer opportunities, and an Amazon wishlist.

Howland expects to take on all of the people who were working when the Crane Avenue location closed.

"There was only a couple of us but to start I'm going to have just them," she said. "And then once we're open, I'll be relying on volunteers and all that."

She clarified that the facility will carry on the mission of animal lover Eleanor Sonsini, a local animal rights activist and longtime Pittsfield animal control officer who died in 1994 at age 80

"Basically her whole mission will stay the same."

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