Giving From the Heart

By Judee Fong


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On their 63rd wedding anniversary, Bruce MacKenzie looked affectionately at his wife Nikki and asked, "What should we do to celebrate this special occasion?" Nikki promptly replied, "Today's paper has this article about a little 10-year-old Shih-Tzu found wandering the streets of Victoria, badly neglected and seriously injured. Let's donate the money to the Victoria SPCA to pay for her surgery."

Today, "Tiny" (nicknamed "Monkey") is learning to love and trust again as she recovers at her devoted BC SPCA foster mom's home.

Despite supporting other animal groups, the MacKenzies decided their main support would be the BC SPCA, an organization that embodies their philosophy of caring, compassion and concern for animals in distress.

Over the last 30 years, they have contributed much needed funds and 2012 is no exception. Their generous donations have helped with the medical expenses of seriously injured animals like Tiny. The MacKenzies have also donated significantly to the SPCA building fund in Nanaimo, and contributed generously to the Campbell River and Port Alberni branches for the community spay/neutering programs.

Bruce and Nikki were raised with animals around them. While still in high school, they both worked on farms. It felt natural to them to support an organization dedicated to the care and well-being of animals.

"Both of us like animals,” says Bruce. “Our children were raised the same way, seeing that animals can't look after themselves, so we should help look after them."

"My son worked at the ferry terminal to put himself through university and dental school,” adds Nikki. “The one thing that upset him terribly was that people who had animals and didn't intend to keep them would abandon them at the terminal."

"People do it here too. There's a campground/trailer park near Island View Beach and it's where a number of the feral cats come from,” says Bruce. “Sometimes, when people move on, they deliberately leave their pets behind; thinking someone else will look after the abandoned animals. I guess that's how we started donating to the SPCA. We have two neighbours who trap feral cats, and we help financially for spaying and neutering. The cats are returned to this area afterwards. Being farm country, they "work" and are fed by the neighbours."

Bruce chuckles as he tells about one of their family cats. "After the last cat died, we said to each other, we're not going to have any more cats. And, wouldn't you know, the next day a feral cat showed up on our doorstep. We named him "Never-Never"; he lived with us until he died of old age."

Growing up in Luseland, Saskatchewan, Nikki remembers the annual rodeo events. "I enjoyed it for a while, until I realized it was entertainment for the people at the cost of animal abuse. Calf roping competitions, steer wrestling and bronco-bucking competitions are cruel animal treatment. It just isn't kosher."

Over the years, Nikki has written letters to various politicians and numerous rodeo events condemning this form of animal abuse. Bruce knows that animal cruelty can be thoughtlessly practiced anywhere in the world. He recalls that, at one time, they had an interest in a working ranch in Australia, where Nikki witnessed dogs treated cruelly. After working, the dogs would be forgotten in the trunk of the car or often tied up to chains for days on end.

Even when travelling in Mexico, Nepal, Vietnam, Romania and several other countries, Bruce and Nikki are aware of the plight of the homeless and injured animals.

“We like to contribute to the Humane Society wherever we go because we know these organizations have a very low budget and are mostly volunteers,” says Bruce. “They do an excellent job with what they have and are very appreciative for any donations."

With their love of travel and a busy at-home schedule of golf, duplicate bridge, tennis, dancing and supporters of Langham Court Theatre, the MacKenzies no longer have pets, but they do have a grand-dog, Kodo, who visits often. Originally from the Yukon, Kodo is a combination of Newfoundlander, Border Collie and Retriever. After his mother was shot, Kodo and his siblings survived in the bush, existing on roots and vegetation until they were rescued.

Bruce and Nikki also have two mini-horses, Sheba and Shanti, which are boarded nearby with a friend.

"Bruce is a retired pediatrics dentist and I'm a retired public health nurse,” says Nikki. “We're in a fortunate position and our children are doing well. We wanted to help the BC SPCA now."

"We requested that our donations stay on Vancouver Island,” Bruce adds. “Then we were given a list of areas that needed help and we chose the ones we wanted."

Laughing, Nikki says, "It's far more gratifying this way because we enjoy seeing what's being done now, instead of pushing up the daisies and not knowing what's happening!"

For information on donating, adopting or volunteering visit www.spca.bc.ca or call (Victoria) 250-388-7722 and www.spca.bc.ca/victoria
Planned Giving and Legacies, contact John Hoole at 250-388-7722, Ext. 225 or email jhoole@spca.bc.ca

The BC SPCA is a non-profit organization that helps 37,000 injured, abused, neglected and homeless domestic, farm and wild animals in British Columbia annually.
They receive no government funding, relying entirely on public support and philanthropic gifts/legacies.
Legacies provide approximately one-third of the annual operating costs.
Donations provide needed medical/surgical/dental care to Shelter animals in distress.
Donations maintain the facilities, investigate acts of cruelty, expand educational outreach and provide needed supplies, food, equipment and toys.

 

NOVEMBER 2012 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE

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