I first met Romy Maimon last winter at the Woods Hole Renaissance Fair.
Making an effort to support local artists, artisans and businesses with my Christmas shopping, I was drawn to her bejeweled and painted quahog shells for their quirky nature, thinking my niece might like one for her bedroom.
Romy explained she would donate half the proceeds to the animal shelters of my choice, which sealed the deal for me. As I paid, I checked off the box for the MSCPA in Centerville.
“My husband and I adopted two feral cats from them about ten years ago,” I said, matter-of-factly, at first.
“We had to put one of them to sleep last week.”
Without warning, my voice broke and I was suddenly crying in the Community Hall, the grief from the unexpected loss of our sweet Panda still so fresh. But I wasn’t embarrassed. I knew she got it; any “animal person” does. One minute we were driving to the emergency clinic in Buzzards Bay, listening to his tortured cries, and what seemed like seconds later, we were leaving with an empty cat carrier.
A self-described animal welfare advocate, Romy has written a self-published book aptly titled, “Animal Lovers,” which explores the world of animal rescue and the people who devote their life to the cause.
“One of the reasons I wrote the book, and it’s a direct result of living in Woods Hole, is that I’ve always had a fascination with the global big picture – nature and the universe and how it fits together,” she said.
She attributes that mentality to being surrounded and influenced by artists, tradesmen and scientists throughout her childhood.
“I always say that growing up in Woods Hole in the 1970s, I was raised by a village.”
Romy spent three years researching and writing the book, which is primarily a labor of love in the form of education.
“I came up with seven questions and found one person from each state involved in the cause, ranging from a veterinarian to a cheerleader who rescues animals,” she said.
Woods Hole May Festival
The 42nd Annual Woods Hole May Festival will be staged Saturday, May 24 from 10 am – 2 pm at Woods Hole Ballpark. Pony rides, dunk tank, May pole, dog show, pie eating contest, community tug-o-war, activities, games, music, artisans and food.
“I had something to say and I thought people needed to be made aware. I wanted them to know what it takes to live that life.”
Formally trained as a metal smith and jeweler, at one time Romy was the only female diamond setter in Philadelphia. But a career change led her to what she thought was a temporary job in a veterinary hospital.
“As soon as I walked in, I knew it was where I was meant to be,” she said.
Romy started as a receptionist and worked her way up to a “floater” doing everything from assisting in surgery to community outreach and education. Although she thought about becoming a vet, in her spare time, she was rescuing needy animals, and felt strongly that that was her calling.
Since moving back to Woods Hole last year, she’s joined the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS), the only national nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to protecting companion animals from cruelty in pet shops and puppy mills.
Although she said there is still a great deal of work to be done, Romy believes strides have been made in regard to animal welfare.
“I think, as a society, there’s more awareness in general,” she said.
“Whether it’s awareness of the dangers of leaving animals in hot cars to the prejudice against pit bulls.”
She cited the One Million Pibble March as an example. At the May 3 rally organized by Stand Up for Pits , thousands of people gathered at the U.S. Capitol for a demonstration against breed specific legislation.
Much of that Romy credits to social media.
“There are thousands of welfare groups on Facebook alone,” she said.
“Social media has been incredible. You can’t help but learn. It’s a cause of passion.”
Locally, she is doing her part with her website eviealo.com, named for her current rescue dog, Evie, which means “new life” and alo meaning “cherish, sustain, support and keep.”
Romy adopted Evie when she was doing rescue work for another organization. A flat-coated retriever who had been abused, Evie needed someone she could trust.
“We needed each other,” Romy said. “She has been a gift.”
Her website provides support for small rescues and shelter, offering a forum for sharing resources and information.
“Maybe one shelter needs collars and another needs caging,” she said.
“They can come to the site and help each other out.”
The other way she offers assistance is through her whimsically painted and decorated shells and woodwork, which she will be selling at the Woods Hole May Festival on Saturday, May 24.
“They’re a departure from my other artwork and jewelry. They’re just meant to be fun and kitschy,” she said.
The main goal is giving back to local shelters by donating a portion of the sales.
“Life is short. I’ve never done anything for the money,” she said.
“I’d rather follow my drive and do something that’s important to me.”
Go visit Romy and buy something in honor of the special four-legged being in your life, or to celebrate the memory of one who made it better.
Become a fan on Facebook ElvieAlo