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2019 President's Message

As we reflect on the past year, it seems as if there is still much work ahead of us. Our rescues are seeing record numbers of owner surrenders, a never-ending puppy and kitten season and shelters are overflowing. Sometimes I feel like we are putting a band-aid on a gaping wound and it is overwhelming at times.

Many people think working with animals means petting puppies or bottle-feeding kittens, and while that can be true, much of animal welfare involves behind-the-scenes work as well as hands-on interactions with animals – many coming from less than honourable pasts.

We recognize that building community involves building relationships with the people in our neighborhoods. We are sensitive and flexible to the various personal and economic situations that people find themselves in while they do the best they can to care for their animals.

This was the spark that led us to move into an education capacity, with the goal to help keep animals with their guardians and prayerfully if we can keep one animal from being rehomed, it opens space for a vulnerable, at risk animal with no home to find respite.

This year has challenged us and more than one time I found myself wanting to quit. Not only were there many hurdles to overcome on the rescue side, we found ourselves fighting a battle we knew we would not win – and that was losing our precious rescue Buttons to bladder cancer.

My mom always said there is a lesson and a blessing in everything – even if we don’t see it at the time. Berkeley’s Place started to honor a special needs dog with no real big vision outside of being a support to rescues in need. This year as we were thrown into situations we simply could not control, rather, had to learn to navigate through, we emerged with new programs like That B.I.T.E.S. and Sit, Stay, Heal.

While our visibility has grown substantially in the past year, and many perceive us as a large operation, nothing could be “fur-thur” from the truth. We are a very small organization that relies completely on the generosity of others – which includes word of mouth.

We also belong to a special group of people – called rescuers – and through this Foundation I have found a core group of people I can reach out to - day or night, who offer support, advice, a shoulder to cry on and compassion. Compassion like I have not witnessed before especially having had two significant losses over the past year and a half.

I have struggled with what to write for the past week now and said to a dear friend that I feel like the Grinch. It got me thinking - How the Grinch Stole Christmas – what was the point of this story? The whole buying and receiving was not the point – when deprived of their oodles of gifts, the Whos shrugged it off. They were too busy celebrating Christmas to worry about the material things we usually think make Christmas.

And that got me thinking – when everything was gobbled up and hidden in the Grinch’s bag, the Whos still celebrated because the Grinch didn’t steal “Christmas” at all. Christmas is a good feeling and sense of community that lives inside all the Whos – gifts or no gifts. And that is why the Grinch’s plan failed – nothing he did could take away that community spirit.

Which brings me to the point of this message. While Rescue ABC operates differently than Rescue XYZ, the common goal, and I hope this is true for most of the rescues, is to advocate for and make the world a better place for the animals. Ego has no place here and while we all have our rules and mission statements, the common goal should always be what is in the best interest of the animals and working together, in community, to make that happen.

Rescue should be about building communities and lifting one another up to achieve those goals. This is why partnerships with remote communities like Inuvik, and assistance to our First Nation Communities, as well as being a support to one another in rescue, is crucial if we are going to weather these storms.

Perhaps we should all take a page out of the Grinch’s book – when he said to his dog Max – “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas means a little bit more”.

This is an opportunity to leave a positive mark on your community. By fostering, volunteering, advocating and donating you will ultimately be saving the lives of thousands of animals now and in the future.

YOU are the reason we are able to help so many. I am only the conduit. Without all of you supporting us, helping with events, to our valued volunteers who foster, those supporting us in many ways, we would not be able to continue to help these animals. Please, take a moment, pat yourself on the back, give a loved one a hug and cherish your furry and feathered friends.

My hope, prayer and wish for each of you is that you will find the beauty of Christmas, that your broken hearts will find healing and peace, and may abundant blessings be yours in 2020.

On behalf of the Executive, and all the volunteers of Berkeley’s Place, have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Lillian Courtney, President

Berkeley’s Place Foundation

December 2019