The Small Animal Rescue Society quietly began due to the sacrifice of a few Burnaby bunnies that no one knew or even cared about. The following is a tribute to those bunnies who died, so that other small animals would live. Sadly, they paid the ultimate price – their lives.
Out of this great sadness however, grew the beginning of something very special – our organization was formed and from that, many, many, many other little unloved & unwanted small animals have found a safe place to be and even their forever home. For that, we are forever grateful.
Many years ago, I was a dog walker at a local shelter. I had no volunteer experience and had never heard of a foster program. I had no small animals and knew nothing about them. Each week I would go in to walk the dogs and I quickly became attached to one dog in particular, a big black dog named Mitch. Mitch had been there for 9 months and was just the greatest dog ever. In a way, he too is our inspiration. If it wasn’t for Mitch making my volunteer experience so enjoyable, I may not have gone back week after week. But I did…and when I went in, I would pass by the rabbit hutch that was then housed outdoors alongside the dog run. Not the ideal environment for a “prey” animal.
The rabbits would catch my eye and I would start to bring them in a few treats and stop to pat them in between the dogs. I quickly was intrigued by a grey & white Dutch bunny who seemed cheeky & devilish. I would find myself now going in to hold him and spend some time with him each time I went into the shelter. Then one day, I received a call from one of the staff members telling me that if I wanted that particular rabbit, I should come to get him today as they were going to put all the rabbits down before the days end. I went in after work and that rabbit turned out to be Nixon….my first bunny….the inspiration for SARS.
As time went on, we entered the summer season and there were fewer dogs in the shelter so we would often have more dog walkers than we did dogs. What would all these volunteers do? I had an idea…. at the time, we had lots of large white bunnies (NZ Whites) and lots of empty dog kennels. So rather than go home, I asked the volunteers if they would spend the 2 hours with a bunny in a dog run….to give them a chance to run and stretch out their legs. This went on all during July & August. It was a success and everyone enjoyed the rabbits and quickly became attached to them.
Then September came along. I had to go to Halifax for a conference for work. When I came back a week later, I had an email from one of the other volunteers…. She had told me that *ALL* the small animals in the shelter had been euthanized. No reason or no excuse was given. They were *all* gone. Rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters…. *all* gone. Only a few weeks later, we once again had more unwanted small animals and more dogs in the shelter than we had dog walkers. By this time I was a dog walking coordinator and I always tried to make sure everyone got to go out for a walk before I would leave for the day. Sadly we were short for walkers that day so myself and another coordinator decided we’d take out a couple of the dogs. Off we went and when we returned back to the shelter two hours later, we came back only to see the empty cage bottoms resting up against the wall. They had been washed out. My heart sank. I quickly ran into the cat room and asked a staff person where were all the rabbits….he told me they were all put down….I dropped to the floor. The news blind sided me and I was sick. I was told that they were sorry I felt that way… that was all.
From that day on, *any* small animal coming into that shelter would come home with me. To the annoyance of everyone who knew me, I would constantly ask all the volunteers or anyone who would listen if they could help out by taking in a rabbit or guinea pig etc… that was the *beginning* of a foster program. Many of the long time dog walkers saw what was happening and they too joined in with fostering the small animals. Eventually there were so many small animals in foster care and so many people caring for & feeding them that we decided we should form something official… and Small Animal Rescue was born. Out of all the dog walkers, some of us took on the hamsters (Sylvia), some the guinea pigs (Joanna) and others the rabbits (myself, Leona and a few others). It only grew from there… many of our long term foster parents became more involved and they are now board members – To each and everyone of them, I am extremely grateful to have them on board with me.
Please take a few minutes to look at some of the pictures that I still have of the bunnies who we didn’t get a chance to help. Hind sight is 20/20 as they say and if I only knew then what I know now…
Please don’t let their sacrifice be in vain…. each and every small animal you see listed with us today owes their place to them and again to them we are all grateful.