By Amanda Matwie

Julie Brown can’t even remember how long she’s been volunteering with Second Chance Animal Rescue Society (SCARS), but her connection to the rescue began around twelve years ago, when she tried to adopt a dog. That specific dog, Gears, was not the right fit for her family, but SCARS founder Sylvia Christiansen helped them find the right dog. Wallace (then Rickenbacker of the “Lucky 13 Litter”) turned out to be an “instant fit” for the family. Even though Gears had not been the right fit for their home, he had embedded himself into their hearts and they wanted the best for him. Wanting to help Gears and other dogs like him at the Athabasca facility, Julie and her children made time in their schedules to spend time there; they walked Gears and the other dogs, cleaned up poop, tidied up enclosures, and helped to feed and water the animals there. Eventually, they decided to try fostering.

Julie and her family fostered animals for 3.5 years, helping over 60 dogs and 6 cats get adopted. A flood and the necessary months of renovations that followed made it necessary for the family to put a pause on fostering animals. While being unable to foster, Julie and her children have been involved in other volunteer efforts for SCARS, staying involved and invested in the rescue’s daily activities and helping however they can.

A self-proclaimed “humanitarian for all sentient beings”, Julie was raised knowing the value of volunteerism and regularly looks for more ways to help. “Rescue is highly tangible,” she points out, “you see the rewards of your efforts and learn not to be discouraged by the heartbreak you witness,” and though she finds it challenging being unable to “save all of them” and to forgive humans for their cruelty and poor decision making, the results are worth the effort. She describes the joy of seeing animals transform from confused and scared as they realize that “life can be less stressful” and they can “relax and choose play for the first time.” As for the human side of things, she loves seeing more people choose to adopt instead of shop as well as receiving happy updates from past adopters.

The knowledge that “even the smallest effort counts” has kept Julie active in rescue work, pushing through hard times. Julie wishes that more people knew how many ways there are to volunteer, and that “everyone has something of value to contribute, whether they know it or not.” People can help by adopting, fostering, assisting at events, fundraising, doing administrative work, or sharing posts on social media. There are so many ways to make an impact. “You will never regret assisting,” insists Julie. “If a kind volunteer hadn’t stepped in when Wallace’s mother went into labor on a cold winter’s night,” she says, “we wouldn’t have the gift of him being a treasured member of our family.” While not everyone is able to adopt or foster animals, there are endless opportunities to help and every effort matters.

Pictured: Julie, her family, various foster animals and Wallace.









Second Chance Animal Rescue Society (SCARS), like most animal rescues here in Alberta, operates primarily through the efforts of volunteers. These volunteers do everything from walking dogs and cuddling kittens to opening their homes to provide temporary placements for animals. Learn more about volunteering for SCARS.