Throughout the League’s 92-year history, many inspiring individuals shaped the organization—and animal welfare—into what it is today.
The history of our organization reveals that what can be achieved in a day, a year, a decade, or nearly a century is not the work of one organization, but rather the work of an entire community of people who have come together over the years to provide a safe haven for all homeless creatures.
The Potter League for Animals was founded in 1929 under the name, “Newport County League for Animals” in order to take charge of abandoned, sick, lame, overworked or cruelly treated animals. The three woman founders, Virginia Potter, Mary van Beuren and Emma Norman were individuals of timeless vision.
The League’s first shelter opened in 1931 on Harrington Street in Newport. In 1958, Virginia Potter died leaving a bequest upon the condition that the League be renamed in honor of her late husband, Robert Potter.
In 1978, a facility was built in Middletown when the Newport shelter could no longer meet health department standards. In 1989 an addition provided much-needed office space and a multipurpose room allowing the League to increase programs to more fully realize our commitment to promote humane attitudes through community education.
In 2004, our Board of Directors realized that it was most cost effective to replace our worn, outdated and inefficient 32 year old structure with a new state-of-the-art shelter and education resource center. A new state-of-the-art facility opened in November of 2008 with homelike housing which replaced the old concrete and wire fenced kennels. In the fall of 2009, the new Potter League was the first animal shelter in the country to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification from the US Green Building Council for our environmentally friendly design.
In 2019, the Potter League for Animals acquired the Rhode Island Community Spay and Neuter Clinic, Rhode Island’s leading spay and neuter service provider. The clinic now operates under the name Potter League Spay and Neuter Clinic. The Clinic is committed to providing low-cost, high-quality and high-volume spay and neuter services to companion animals and feral cats. The clinic has performed over 60,000 surgeries since opening its doors in 2010.
In 2020, the Potter League for Animals acquired the Pets In Need Veterinary Clinic, Rhode Island’s only nonprofit full service veterinary clinic that offers low-cost, high quality medical and surgical services for pets of eligible low-income Rhode Island pet owners. Located in Riverside, RI the PIN Clinic now operates under the name Potter League Pets In Need Veterinary Clinic. The Clinic is committed to providing compassionate, high-quality veterinary care to the pets of Rhode Islanders receiving public assistance. The clinic has serviced over 7,000 pets since opening its doors in 2016.