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Running on little money but lots of love at TLC Animal Shelter in Digby

Dorothy Andrews has run the TLC Animal Shelter in Digby as a full time volunteer for nearly 30 years.
Dorothy Andrews has run the TLC Animal Shelter in Digby as a full time volunteer for nearly 30 years.

DIGBY, NS – It’s been nearly thirty years since Dorothy Andrews began volunteering at the TLC Animal Shelter in Digby, and in that time she’s rescued hundreds of animals.

It’s a job that never ends. She’s committed full-time hours and even her own money to the shelter. With her retirement savings dashed, she’s stayed involved.

She does it because she loves the animals, but also because she worries no one else would.

“It’s a big job. I should have retired a few years ago, but there’s a huge need here,” she says.


Taking care of the cats

After nearly three decades of hard work, Andrews is tired, but never stops giving her time to the shelter that currently houses dozens of cats.

Eight volunteers help Andrews look after feeding the cats and maintaining the building. Some volunteers, like Joan Nelson, have worked there for fifteen years. Others, like two volunteers from British Columbia, are brand new.

Getting volunteers to commit can be a hard job, even when part of the description includes playtime with cats and kittens.

As an animal lover, Andrews hasn’t even thought of retirement from her work at the shelter. “I should have retired a few years ago, but who would do this in my place?” she wonders.

“I so appreciate the help I get from the volunteers that come back time and again,” says Andrews, “but we need more. People can only spare so much time.”

Each cat at the shelter has been rescued. While many were dropped off at the shelter or abandoned nearby – with the latest cat dumped just weeks ago on September 19 – some are also from people who simply cannot care for them.


Staying committed to continued care

TLC is a no-kill shelter, something Andrews is adamant will never change.

“If they’re eating well, are physically sound and everything works, and can have a quality life, how would anyone ever think of putting them down?” she says.

“A rescue means rescue. It doesn’t mean euthanizing some to make room for others.”

While she remains committed to the shelter, Andrews worries what may happen in a few years when she may no longer be able to run things at the shelter.

The dozens of cats currently housed at the shelter are rescue animals. They are loved and looked after, and will only be adopted to homes that can provide at least the same conditions.

“What happens when I can’t do this any more? Who will take this on? That’s something I’m not sure of,” she says.


Making do with limited money

Basic treatment required for any rescue animal at the shelter includes leukemia tests, vaccines, de-worming treatment, flea treatments, and checks for other infections.

Vet bills can often surpass $1,000, which is big money for the shelter, which runs on $20,000 per year.

The $2,765 the shelter received one week ago from the Digby Care 25 fundraising group was a welcome boost, and will go towards oil barrel repairs for this winter.

Andrews’ age is not the only thing that worries her. On top of ensuring the cats are happy and healthy, she is always worried the shelter may run out of money.

“I worry about every expense that arises. I’ve got enough stress taking care of these animals, without worrying about finances,” she says.

“But, I realize now we’re taking this month by month.”


It’s all worth it in the end

Any donation to the shelter – money, cat food, volunteer time, or other supplies – is appreciated.

When adoptions happen, Andrews can’t help but smile. “They’re not strays to us,” she says.

“Times are tough, and we understand that more than most. But if we could even get 500 people donating $5 each once a month, can you imagine the difference that would make?” says Andrews.

When donations come through, and when adoptions happen, Andrews can’t help but smile.

Her ultimate goal is to see each animal to a home where they will be well cared for and well-loved.

“They’re not strays to us. They’re ours until adopted by someone else. And when you love something, you want to see it go somewhere it’ll be loved,” she says.


See also: Digby Care 25 raises $2,765 for TLC Animal Shelter

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