This no-kill animal shelter has led the charge for animal rights for 20 years

WILMINGTON, Del. -- "When a small group of people get organized for change, it really can happen," said Jane Pierantozzi.

20 years ago, she started an animal shelter out of her own house, which has grown to change the landscape of animal rights in Delaware.

Faithful Friends Animal Society began when Pierantozzi noticed that thousands of cats and dogs were unjustly killed within local shelters. She and her friends started to adopt and care for some of them.

Inspired by a no-kill movement in Utah, Pierantozzi had created a shelter with a no-kill policy and sanctuary care.

Her first legal victory came in 2006 when she helped pass a spay and neuter law in Delaware. This forced shelters to fix their tenant pets, accounting for rampant reproduction. This law also helped low-income individuals have their pets spayed and neutered.

In 2010, Faithful Friends contributed to a shelter standards law, which forced shelters to be transparent about their statistics and euthanization. This also required pets to receive basic vaccinations.

Pierantozzi continued working with local lawmakers and the media to establish Delaware's first Office of Animal Welfare in 2013.

Now that 2020 is here, the society was planning a grand celebration of their accomplishments. However, due to COVID-19, no such event was held.

Instead, Faithful Friends is hosting a virtual weekend of activities from Friday, June 26, to Sunday, June 28. Participants who log on to can participate in auctions, games, and even sponsor a long-term pet at the shelter.

Looking ahead to the next 20 years, Pierantozzi hopes to secure better legislation to protect cats, including funding to spay and neuter cats for free. In addition, Faithful Friends has received a state land gift, which will move them to a larger location more conducive to pet care within the next few years.

It's been an emotional, yet rewarding rollercoaster ride for everyone involved at the shelter.

"Everything I learned about God, I learned through pets," Pierantozzi said.

Anyone interested in adoption or donations can visit the Faithful Friends website.

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