By Denise Bitz, Brother Wolf Founder and President
If you had asked me 11 years ago if I had any intention of cashing in my retirement fund and starting an animal rescue organization, I would have told you that you were crazy. I had a wonderful career as a nurse. I worked only three days a week and made a very comfortable salary. As far as I was concerned, that was my life.
I had always considered myself an animal lover and wanted to help save dogs, so I started fostering for a small, local, foster-based group. I felt like I could be a big help to them.
As I got more involved in the community, I learned more about the plight of animals at the county shelter who were being killed for space at an alarming rate. Most of the animals who went into that shelter did not make it out alive. It was heartbreaking.
I wanted to do more to save these animals. I took on more fosters myself and encouraged others to do the same. But I was deemed a troublemaker. And I was soon fired as a volunteer by the foster group.
I never knew a volunteer could be fired. I was shocked. I went on to do what I thought any reasonable person would do: I started my own organization so I could get back to work saving lives!
Pretty soon, word got out that a new organization was forming. A No-Kill organization. People started to rally around me, wanting to know how they could help. They offered to open their homes to foster animals, donate dog food, or hold a yard sale to raise money for veterinary funds! It was awesome to know that people wanted to be a part of creating change in our community.
At the very beginning, Brother Wolf’s mission was to build a No-Kill community — a stance that made us very unpopular among some of the other local organizations. They took the term ‘No-Kill’ very personally because it inferred that they were unjustly killing animals. But that’s exactly what they were doing! I had learned along the way that the #1 killer of healthy dogs and cats in our country was the animal shelters that were supposedly organized to save them. How could we betray the animals like this? There had to be a better way!
I was asked by other organizations to stop using the term ‘No-Kill’, but their resistance only made me want to fight harder for the animals. I was told over and over again by other agencies that not only was ‘No-Kill’ offensive, but that it was also an impossible dream. Well, I would rather die trying than to accept that fate for our animal friends!
The biggest challenge we faced during the first year was the sadness and frustration that came with the realization that we couldn’t save them all at once. It would take time and more resources.
Even though we saved close to 70 animals that first year, thousands were still dying needlessly. It was important to stay on track, and continue to build the resources we needed to save more. We realized that change could not happen overnight, so we worked to create a sense of urgency for animals that wasn’t there before.
We believed that under-resourced community members were not the problem, as they had been led to believe by other organizations — and that they were, in fact, the solution!
Today, Brother Wolf’s greatest asset continues to be the volunteers, fosters, and donors who have rallied around our No-Kill mission.
Together, we have saved so many lives — over 6,000 this year alone! But our work isn’t done. Can you help us grow stronger, to save even more animals in the coming year?
Thanks to a group of generous supporters, our year-end donations are now being matched up to $20,000! Please consider making a year-end donation today to help us build a more compassionate future for the animals who need us most.
Click here to make a donation or TEXT brotherwolf to 50155 to make a quick donation using your phone!