Westport Animal Shelter Advocates (WASA) Provides a Better Future for Lost Causes


Pretend you’re Bonny, a *rottweiler tied up to a pole and abandoned by your family. Chances are high that you might starve to death or have the weather take its toll on you. Then suddenly a miracle happens; this miracle is the Westport Animal Shelter Advocates, or better known as W.A.S.A.

W.A.S.A is a non-profit organization that is not apart of the Humane Society. WASA is a unique organization that takes quality care of the animals they foster. The mission statement for WASA shows their determination to help the dogs they foster, and are “dedicated to the care and welfare of homeless dogs in Fairfield County, CT. Our primary focus is attending to the needs of impounded dogs at Westport Animal Control in Westport, CT.”

The formation of W.A.S.A. was owing to the fact that former animal control officer Peter D’amico wanted a better program for the stray dogs that Westport pulls in. D’amico reached out to Julie Loparo in 2007 and they were able to form W.A.S.A. together. D’amico felt that it was important for the dogs to have a strong group of support, so they good go on to lead the best life possible.

W.A.S.A aims to foster as many dogs as they can from animal shelters all around Fairfield County. Currently WASA had fostered dogs from Bridgeport, Norwalk, Weston and Wilton animal controls. WASA has been able to do this because of the assistance they provide and the relationships they have formed with the staffs.
“For our foster program, we do “pull” dogs from CT municipal pounds for example, animal control or town pounds,” said W.A.S.A. founder Julie Loparo.

In order to rescue the dogs from these certain pounds, the pounds have an understanding with W.A.S.A. that the dogs will be treated properly and receive all vetting and medicals needs.

In addition to providing all medical expenses to the animals, WASA also provides a “thorough adoption process which includes personal and reference checks and home visits, will be done,” added Loparo.

The reason that WASA receives an adequate amount of fosters is because most pounds have a policy against accepting dogs that are surrendered over by their owners. “we have taken in dogs at the front door of the building because the owners were being turned away and have not paid any type of adoption fee,” said Loparo.

Aside from W.A.S.A. accepting dogs that were turned away by pounds, they also foster a great deal of what is considered “bully breeds.”

Accoridng to animalplanet.com the most common bully breeds are considered to be “American pit bull terrier, Amercican Stafforshire terrier, boxer, boston terrier and the buldog.” The website the commented that many people do in fact find it surprising that some of America’s most beloved dogs are categorized under the bully breed.

“We LOVE bully breeds but there is such a stigma associated with them because of bad owners. CT pounds and shelters are full of great pit bulls and pit mixes,” said Loparo.

Guidance counselor Victoria Capozzi, who is a volunteer worker for WASA, advocates for the animals who are abandoned. “People right in our small little town don’t know we have a Westport animal shelter…”

“WASA takes dogs that come in and rehabilitate them,” said Capozzi. During her years as a volunteer Capozzi ran into a dog named sparky who was severely abused when he was first brought to W.A.S.A. The side effects from the abuse he endured made him aggressive, afraid of men, scared and very closed off. After being fostered by W.A.S.A for three and a half years Sparky was able to be adopted and now lives the happy life he deserves. “W.A.S.A. never gave up on him” Capozzi then says with a sincere and genuine smile.

In order to spread word about WASA they mainly advertise on social media. In order to showcase the dogs that they are currently fostering WASA uses the website petfinder.com. WASA has a 100% adoption rate and aims to keep it that way for years to come.

“Our hope, however, is that WASA can continue to make a difference in the lives of homeless dogs in CT, and that we have been successful in our efforts to maintain Westport Animal Control as a no kill, compassionate and safe haven for every dog that comes through the door,” said Loparo.