PLANTSVILLE – Classic cars came to Southington Drive-In on Sunday to help raise money for Best Friends for Life Animal Rescue.
Volunteers from the non-profit organization participated in the 7th annual Cars 4 Paws car show, educating visitors about their mission and how to help.
Andy Thornton, the “little brother” of Best Friends for Life co-founder Tony Bagliore, collected donations from show car owners at the entrance.
“Tony has done so much for me over the years…I’m just here today for him and the animals,” said Thornton, a Bristol native who was mentored by Bagliore through the Big Organization. Brothers Big Sisters during her childhood.
The two have remained close over the years and Thornton supports the charitable efforts of Bagliore and his wife Marina to rescue homeless animals and find forever homes for them.
“We need a lot of volunteers and people to encourage,” said Marina. “We’re spreading the word to responsible pet owners.”
Since its inception in 2002, Best Friends has rescued countless dogs across the country, nurturing them until they can be placed in good homes. Their pets can be found on petfinder.com and adoptapet.com.
Bagliore, who also owns Tony’s Oil in Southington and is an EMT, converted an old ambulance into a rescue van.
“We’ve been doing this now for 20 years,” he explained. “We basically rescue dogs that are at risk of being euthanized. We get a lot of dogs from Kentucky, Mississippi, and Arkansas.
They rely on adoptive parents like Pam Lynch to handle rescues until they can be placed in a suitable home with a responsible family.
“Tommy is my current dog,” Lynch said, showing a photo of the pup on her phone. “Last year I had seven dogs. An animal dies if I don’t take it home to feed it. It makes me cry because I love my babies.
Around 75 show cars participated on Sunday. That’s less than in previous years, which Bagliore says could be partly due to the ongoing pandemic, but also the sweltering heat of the day.
Other animal rescue organizations participated, including Desmond’s Army Animal Law Advocates. Vice President and Treasurer Linda Pleva, who lives in Plainville, was happy to be among other animal lovers.
“We try not only to raise funds, but to educate the public about what we do and why our group is so needed,” Pleva said. “We advocate for stronger laws regarding people who abuse or neglect animals.”
Animal abuse is strongly correlated with elder, child and family abuse, she pointed out.
“It’s a big red flag, this crime,” Pleva added.
Partnering with other animal rights organizations helps both their causes, according to Bagliore.
“We all do the same thing,” he says. “Help animals.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at [email protected]