Ellen Quinlan, executive director of the Darbster Foundation

by | Dec 29, 2021

Ellen Quinlan—executive director of the Darbster Foundation (& Darbster Rescue), whose chief mission involves plucking cats and dogs from crowded south Florida shelters, and finding homes for them in the adoption-friendly New England area, with that process including arranging interstate transportation for these animals—recounts growing up in a family that lived with cats and dogs, sometimes other pets, and in what may constitute a pivotal part of the Quinlan, and Darbster, narrative, notes that she stopped eating meat at age 12. Quinlan says that she continued her vegetarian ways deep into her 30s, when, in 1999, she and her then-future husband, Alan Gould, attended a presentation by a major animal welfare organization, after which the couple decided to go vegan. In 2003, after becoming full-time residents of West Palm Beach, Quinlan and Gould—who enjoy eating out—routinely made a 40-minute trek to the vegan restaurant they loved in Fort Lauderdale; they tired of doing that drive multiple times each week, but lamented the dearth of vegan restaurants in their city. So, displaying a can-do attitude (and naivete, Quinlan wryly acknowledges) that’s marked a few of the couple’s ventures, they opened their own vegan restaurant—despite zero experience in the restaurant biz. They named it after a rescue dog they’d adopted: Darby, nicknamed “Darbster.” That was in late 2009, and after some tough episodes while traveling the learning curve, they settled into a groove, and a dozen years later, Darbster is going strong, with some key staffers having held their positions for 8-9 years, Quinlan says. It’s wholly fitting that they named their eatery after their adopted rescue dog because, Quinlan explains, over time, the couple became aware that shelters in the New England area were often sorely lacking in adoptable animals—completely the opposite of the scenario in south Florida: crammed, low adoption rate, high euthanasia rates; among the nation’s highest, Quinlan says. She spells out how The Darbster Foundation/Darbster Rescue addresses this paradigm by, in a sense, flipping it: With the help of local rescue organizations, the Darbster operation identifies cats and dogs that are promising adoption prospects, arranges ground transportation from south Florida to New England (some of the cats are flown), the animals are then transferred to Darbster-owned facilities in New Hampshire, as an interim step, before landing at their forever homes.   (https://www.darbster.com,  https://www.darbsterfoundation.com, https://www.facebook.com/DarbsterFoundation/, https://www.instagram.com/darbsterfoundation/)

ALSO: I spoke briefly with H.H. German, the writer-creator of “Calico,” what may be the first comic-book hero dedicated to fighting animal abuse. I had spoken with German not quite a year ago, when he was launching the eight-issue series, “Here Comes Calico.” Now that he was about to publish issue Number 4–the series’ halfway mark–I reconvened with him briefly to gauge response to “Calico”—which German says has been enthusiastic amongst both animal lovers and comic book aficionados, adding that there’s a crowdfunding opportunity to support the series, and in the process, receive all four issues: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sigmacomics/here-comes-calico-4  (https://sigmacomics.com, https://www.instagram.com/sigma_comics, https://www.facebook.com/sigmacomicsgroup)

COMEDY CORNER: Eddie Pepitone’s “Dog Therapy” (https://www.eddiepepitone.com)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.


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