By Sue Tiffin
Generally this space is dedicated to thoughts on more local topics and so it might be odd for you to find yourself, now, reading about American actress and comedian Betty White, but bear with me here.
Surely there are many fans of Betty in the area – she was a cultural icon with an 80-year acting career, recognized with numerous distinctions.
Both on-screen and off, she broke down the stereotypes of aging; championed rights for women; was a strong ally for the LGBTQ+ community, and was beloved by multiple generations.
White was also celebrated as a passionate and dedicated, tireless animal advocate.
She hosted a TV show that focused on pets and their celebrities and ecology and wildlife preservation, served on the board of trustees at the non-profit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association and volunteered at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Through the Morris Animal Foundation, she personally sponsored more than 30 health studies that improved health for dogs, cats, horses and wildlife and established the Betty White Wildlife Fund to support research and address wildlife health issues after disasters like wildfires and oil spills. She supported Guide Dogs for the Blind, and American Humane – for which she was involved for nearly half of the organization’s 145-year existence.
Soon after her death on Dec. 31, a Betty White Challenge came to be, asking people to donate to an animal shelter or rescue mission in her name on Jan. 17 – which would have been her 100th birthday – to honour her life and legacy.
In our own community, we can accept that challenge and do our part to help the compassionate residents – our friends and neighbours – who we know dedicate the days and nights of their lives to caring for animals. Year-round we can help by donating items these organizations need, or fostering, adopting or volunteering with the animals they serve. On Jan. 17 – or before, or after – we can donate in Betty White’s name to continue her work and the work of our neighbours in making a difference for animals in need. Here are just some of the organizations doing tremendous work in our neighbourhood:
The Cats of Paint Lake
A stray and feral cat rescue based in Dorset and serving the Muskoka and Haliburton Highlands areas.
To make a donation, email email@example.com or mail cheques to The Cats of Paint Lake, P.O. Box 344, Dorset, Ontario, POA 1EO. For more information visit: www.thecatsofpaintlake.ca
Highlands Cinemas cats
A second chance and a new permanent home has been offered to almost 50 cats who were abandoned or feral in the area. To make a donation, email firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to Box 85, 4131 Cty Road 121, Kinmount, ON, K0M 2AO. For more information visit: highlandscinemas.com/home.php
Minden Cat Angels
A registered charity with a group of volunteers that organized in 2016 to provide shelter and eventual permanent homes for the feral and stray cats in the Minden area. Donations can be made online or cheques can be mailed directly to treasurer Debi Robertson of Minden Cat Angels at 14 Highland Gate Blvd., Minden, ON, K0M 2K0. For more information visit: facebook.com/mindencatangels.
Snowflake Meadows Rescue
An animal rescue service and pet adoption service located in Lochlin. Send an e-transfer to email@example.com (be sure to write in the message section ‘in memory of Betty White’), or call or text 289-338-3429. For more information visit: facebook.com/SnowflakeMeadows53
Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary
A volunteer-based charity dedicated to the year-round rehabilitation of sick or orphaned animals (wildlife) located in this area. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit woodlandswildlifesanctuary.ca.