Staff and volunteers with Langley Animal Protection Society strive to make furry tail endings come true, and Jayne Nelson believes it takes a village to make it happen.
During the recent LAPS gala fundraiser, she spoke of her belief that sheltering animals can be done better, and how a group at the Patti Dale Animal Shelter in Aldergrove work to make that possible.
"A shelter does not have to be a dismal, lonely, and stressful place to sadly wait for a home," said Nelson, LAPS' manager of animal welfare.
Rather, she said, it's a place full of love, laughter, and affection made possible by 14 "incredibly passionate shelter workers" and a team of 200-plus dedicated volunteers who live their lives to ensure that every animal that comes through is loved and protected.
While showing a video of the team at work in the shelter, Nelson spoke of how so many people give of their time and hearts to needy animals.
"Our unique shelter exists because of a wonderful community that is caring, supportive, and progressive in their willingness to give resources of time and money," Nelson said.
"I am humbled every day by the sheer capacity of these people to give so much of themselves for little more than the privileged to help these beautiful creatures find their furry tail endings."
The heart of a shelter worker is pure magic, she said.
They believe, as Cinderella did, that if you keep on believing, the dreams you are dreaming will come true.
The dream of staff and volunteers at LAPS is that all their furry, four-legged charges will find forever homes.
"These people work very hard, not for the money, but for the grateful eyes of a dog, whose conditions have been so poor that the shelter is truly the best place he has ever known, and for the content purrs of tiny kittens just bottle fed," Nelson said, fighting to hold back a flood of tears.
"You know you have the heart of a shelter worker if you think: that the best cat colour is black, you like lumpy old dogs, you are excited by the prospect of getting your hands on a matted, smelly, and flea-infested dog to give it a bath. You are only attracted to sickly, ugly, damaged or different animals that no one else wants. You have the unique ability to cram 10 hours of work into an eight-hour day, and then volunteer another one or two taking a needy shelter animal out for a 'play date'," Nelson continued.
"You would do anything to improve the life of a shelter animal, knowing that for most of these animals you will be the best thing that ever happened to them."
The team, she said, are people who do all of this, not for the money or recognition, but because they want to make a difference and believe that once in a while, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairytale.
"What a shelter worker is willing to give day to day is more than most of us can afford," Nelson said.
But what they give to Langley's homeless and abandoned animals is a chance at a furry tail ending.