On the Job

Shelter manager cares for sick, abandoned animals

Sandra Luppi helps care for and find homes for animals, like Lucy, a tortoise shell cat, at a Brewster animal shelter.
Steve Haines for The Boston Globe
Sandra Luppi helps care for and find homes for animals, like Lucy, a tortoise shell cat, at a Brewster animal shelter.

There can be as many as 20 dogs, 50 cats, birds, bunnies, and other small animals housed at the Cape Cod Adoption Center of the Animal ­Rescue League of Boston. From time to time, there are also chickens, horses, and other wildlife — up to 1,300 animals a year that are saved from abandonment and neglect or just need a new home. It takes a small staff and an army of volunteers to keep up with the demands of the Brewster shelter, said manager Sandra Luppi.

Luppi must contend with abused or sick animals that need constant care and training before they are adoptable. She also deals with a parade of people, some surrendering a loved pet because of economic hardship.

Are you ever surprised by the kind of animals that come through the door of the shelter?

In this line of work, I have seen many different types of animals, including snakes, hedgehogs, opossums, and raccoons. We have a barn used as a holding center for animals seized through our law enforcement department, where we have had horses, goats, ponies, as well as a trio of miniature horses.

How has the economy affected local shelters?


Sadly, the effects of foreclosure have had an impact. People have surrendered a pet because they couldn’t afford to live in their house anymore. Our role is to provide a safe and caring place for people who can’t keep their pets, and greet them in a compassionate and nonjudgmental way.

How do you help pet owners find lost dogs or cats?

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We take reports of animals that are lost and found, and offer advice on how to look for pets. If an animal has been seen but is difficult to capture, we often refer owners to our rescue department in Boston. They have the skills and equipment to help capture even the very elusive.

Has it always been your dream to work with animals?

I have a great love for animals. When I saw an injured animal by the side of the road, I’d go back to help. My initial dream was to be a veterinarian. I didn’t end up going to vet school. When I heard there was an opportunity at the rescue league, I decided to take a chance and apply.

How do you keep the shelter from smelling bad?

We are very diligent in keeping up on animal care and making sure bedding and cages are always clean. There’s the added benefit of nice airflow throughout the building.

Have you ever adopted a pet from the shelter?


Yes. He is a very smart and spoiled 11-year-old beagle.

Cindy Atoji Keene can be reached at