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Nurse Cares For Elderly, Special Needs Animals

(ANIMAL CARE) VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Meet Carol Hine, a community nurse by day, animal caretaker by night. In 2004, Carol founded Senior Animals In Need Today (SAINTS) to help aging and special needs animals of all types. Carol cares for dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, cows, sheep, goats, pigs, and more, all denied admission into other shelters, with the help of a small staff and several volunteers. Though Carol contributes what she can to the foundation, funds are running low and SAINTS is unable to take in new members. Read on to learn more about Carol and SAINTS. — Global Animal

Carol Hine cares for elderly animals at SAINTS. Photo Credit: Ric Ernst, Vancouver Sun

Vancouver Sun, Kim Pemberton

Carol Hine is like a Nurse Dolittle to the animals, providing the only multi-species sanctuary for elderly and special needs animals in Canada.

When the registered community nurse finishes her day job she goes home to a second full-time job and her lifelong passion, animals and lots of them.

More than 100 creatures, including Ellie May, an 800-pound pig, Sweet Caroline, an arthritic 17-year-old sheep, and Edith, a very old and demented goat, are living out their final days in a safe and loving environment with Hine at SAINTS.

Since Hine founded SAINTS, which stands for Senior Animals in Need Today, in December 2004, it has helped about 450 animals.

Right now Hine has 33 dogs, 35 cats, 14 bunnies, four horses, three sheep, four goats, two pigs, three cows, a donkey, a turkey, ducks, two budgies and a cockatiel all nestled comfortably on her three-acre hobby farm in Mission.

Her modest house, barn and three outbuildings have been converted into what amounts to a senior citizens’ home for animals. There’s even a pond and a fenced field for the animals of all persuasions to wander. So much thought has gone into giving the animals a good quality of life even the muddy banks of the pond have been replaced by sand after a few of the older, more confused animals got stuck.

Helping Hine run SAINTS are three full-time staff and a flock of volunteers tending the ever-changing menagerie. Unfortunately, since so many of the animals are old about 250 have died — each death memorialized with a wind chime hanging in the memorial gardens in the centre of the property.

In addition to the animals living on site, about 20 more are off the property in foster homes; their medical bills are still paid for by the non-profit organization.

Hine estimates it costs about $200,000 a year to run the end-of-life sanctuary, all of it raised by donations and regular fundraising activities.

They’ve had to stop taking in any new animals for now since there isn’t enough money to properly care for new members. Since most of the elderly animals have health problems it costs between $1,000 and $2,000 to meet their medical needs initially.

When funds are tight, Hine uses some of her nursing paycheque to help make ends meet.

Why does she do it?

She laughs and says she’s basically crazy, but then adds someone has to help them.

“It wasn’t their fault they were old and didn’t have homes,” she said, pointing to Al, a 17-year-old dog walking past on a leisurely stroll around the barn.

“Al still has a great quality of life. You can’t end his life just because it doesn’t suit you.”

Still, Hine said when she started she never dreamed the sanctuary would grow this big. SAINTS opened with 16 cats, 12 dogs and two rabbits.

Although she is personally a dog person, she first got into this field by opening a cat shelter years ago when she lived in Maple Ridge because the need was there.

SAINTS is also one of the few animal shelters that will take in cats with the deadly and highly contagious feline leukemia virus that results in most with the diagnosis being euthanized. But at SAINTS one of the buildings is used to house the cats, who generally live two years past diagnosis. The exception is The Rock, a “miracle cat” who is still going strong five years after coming to SAINTS.

Hine’s personal space is shared with the dogs, many of whom sleep with her on her king-sized bed. The day I visited, Phoebe, Hine’s adopted short-haired German pointer, was having some time out in the “Zen-den” a corner of the living room to get away from the other dogs.

The Zen den is situated right beside Hine’s desk where over her computer are the words she lives by: “There will be no crisis today. My schedule is full.”

More: http://www.vancouversun.com/Nurse+Dolittle+talks+animals+eases+them+through+their+final+years/5121575/story.html

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