A feline resident of the Clarenville SPCA admires Anne Marie Brown's IFAW Animal Hero Award. Photo bt Barbara Dean Simmons/The Packet
Anne Marie Brown doesn't count the number of hours she spends working at the animal shelter, tending to, caring for and finding homes for unwanted animals.
"It's just my life," says the unassuming volunteer.
However, others have noticed her dedication, and last week Brown was presented with an award for her dedication to animals.
Olivier Bonnett, director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Canada, was in Shoal Harbour to present her with IFAW's Animal Action Award.
"The vital service provided by the Clarenville Area SPCA could not be possible without extraordinary individuals like Anne Marie," says Bonnet. "IFAW is delighted to award Anne Marie with the 2007 Animal Welfare Volunteer award for her passion and dedication, which has saved the lives of so many animals."
Brown, who has been working at the shelter for about 15 years, was nominated by fellow SPCA volunteer Jewel Pelley.
Pelley says Brown "goes over and above for each and every animal that crosses our shelter's doorstep."
Brown's desire to help animals extends beyond the jurisdiction of the Clarenville shelter.
"It doesn't matter that an animal is not within our jurisdiction, Anne Marie will always work to find accommodations, even when there is 'no room at the inn.'"
In fact, the day of the award, one of Brown's rescued animals shared the spotlight for the official photograph.
Shelby, a 10-month-old mixed-breed dog, came to the shelter from St. John's, suffering from kidney failure.
Thanks to her many contacts across the province and beyond, Brown was able to find a home for the dog with a family in Ottawa, ensuring Shelby has a comfortable life for as long as she lives.
Another dog was undergoing surgery the same day, thanks to Brown's efforts to raise the $300 necessary for the operation. That animal is also awaiting placement in a home.
In past years, animals like Shelby might have been euthanized.
However, Brown believes animals who have a chance at a good life with medical treatment, should be given a chance.
Pelley says the shelter's statistics on euthanasia are proof that Brown's efforts are making a difference.
"In the past five years, the euthanasia statistics are remarkable for a SPCA shelter. In 2006, 446 entered our shelter and only 97 were euthanized."
Last year, 201 dogs entered the shelter and only one had to be euthanized. And of the 281 cats who crossed the threshold, only 80 had to be put down.
Brown is modest about the award. She says she doesn't do this work expecting to be in the spotlight.
With 12 cats, two rabbits, a chinchilla and two dogs of her own - many of which were adopted from the shelter - it's hard to imagine how Brown manages to devote any volunteer hours to the SPCA while caring for her own menagerie and holding down a full-time job.
"My passion is animals," she says. "I'll keep on doing this work for as long as I can do it."