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Ellen Quinlan, Executive Director of Darbster Foundation: “We definitely don’t want to displace animals that are native to New England.”

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Ellen Quinlan, Executive Director of Darbster Foundation, was one of those kids who always brought home every stray animal she found, and that passion for helping animals has stayed with her as an adult. The mission of Ellen’s group is to reduce the number of adoptable cats, kittens, dogs, and puppies that are being euthanized in Palm Beach County and south Florida by partnering with shelters and rescues in Florida to transport pets to rescue partners in New Hampshire and throughout New England. The Foundation is mostly self-funded through several businesses it runs, including a vegan restaurant in West Palm Beach, Florida, and a pet boarding facility on the Manchester, NH property. The Foundation initially funded many spay/neuter projects in Florida, but over the years, the landscape has changed, with many groups receiving major grants from large grantors, meaning there isn’t as much need for funding from groups like Darbster. So, in 2015, they turned their focus to transport. At the time, there wasn’t much interest from New Hampshire shelters, so Darbster decided to buy their own property in Manchester, NH and get licensed with the state as a shelter. They began by doing a survey of all the shelters in NH, because they did not want to bring animals into an area that already had enough adoptable animals. Ellen is very clear that Darbster never wants to displace native or local animals. Their cat transports are generally 16-20 cats at a time, and they are flown to New England after undergoing all required veterinary care (including spay/neuter) in Florida and receiving a health certificate. After the cats arrive in New Hampshire, they are quarantined for 48 hours, and then are checked by a local vet and receive another health certificate before being released for adoption. Ellen tells us that she has seen positive changes in Palm Beach County for animals over the years Darbster has been operating. There is a lot more Return-to-Field happening, and the live release numbers have improved dramatically, going from 29% when Darbster began its work, to 65% currently. In 2015, Darbster transported 231 cats and kittens, and that number skyrocketed to 1,163 in 2017. Darbster is continuing to work on parterning with more shelters, so their transport numbers continue to increase. They are opening a dog facility in Chichester NH this summer, and are hoping to open a small clinic with lower cost veterinary care there within the next year. To learn more, visit one of Darbster’s websites at,, or– or check out the corresponding Facebook pages.

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