Thursday Spotlight – Andryia Browne


     IT’S THURSDAY SPOTLIGHT- This spotlight is on the Fort McMurray Connect’s Owner/Publisher/Editor Andryia Browne, She speaks for those who cannot speak for themselves- animals. She is a member of the FMSPCA board, volunteer, rescue mom to many cats and I’m very lucky to know her. I love everything she speaks for and the way she uses real stories in her editorials to get the message across to people reading her newspaper. You will never find the pages of the Fort McMurray Connect not have a few FMSPCA ads in there promoting local events & adoptions. Two Big Paws Up to Andryia and all she does for the animals!

-Name: Andryia Browne

-Origin: Victoria, BC

-Years in Fort McMurray:  13

-Animal(s) (name, breed, age): 5 cats, Gordon (creamsicle long hair), Cher (tortoise long hair), Zoe (Grey and white tabby, feral), Beanie (tortoise tabby), Abby (tortoise tabby)

-Interesting facts about your Animal(s): The most interesting facts about our four legged family members is that we never intended to have a family this big!  Ten years ago, we decided to adopt a cat from the FMSPCA (a story for another time) and two years later we got him Beanie, a little friend to keep him company.  Max, our first cat, was 5 when we adopted him from the SPCA and at the time was the oldest resident and had been there the longest.  Beanie, had been thrown in a trash bag and put out at the curb, some people walking by heard her scratching away and rescued her.  At that time she was a kitten and they took her home, but months later as she grew into a cat they surrendered her to the SPCA.  Three years ago when he died of cancer, Beanie was heartbroken and so were we.

About 6 months later we learned that the FMSPCA was over crowded with cats, as the kittens always got adopted first so we decided to go up one Saturday not knowing if our hearts were ready to adopt another pet.  I zigged, my husband zagged and my mother who was visiting at the time zigged and zagged.  My husband found Gordon, who had been returned to the shelter for a second time as the last adopters had a new baby and returned him (sigh) and he is in fact one of the most beautiful cats personality and otherwise I or those who meet him have ever seen.  My husband was smitten as he carried him around the cat room and they bonded.  In the meantime, I asked the staff in the cat room who amongst the residents had been there the longest and who was the most unlikely to be adopted as it matters little to me what they look like, I am there to breathe life back into their broken hearts.  They led me to Cher, a large beautiful but stand-off-ish girl who immediately ran to the small window in the cat room paying little attention to me.  They explained that although she wasn’t immediately affectionate like many of the cats that she would be a wonderful companion if someone would just give her a chance.  I said yes.  As my husband and I both met in the middle of the cat room we realized what had happened…so we adopted them both. It attracted quite a crowd that Saturday afternoon!

A year after that I got a call from the FMSPCA that they had a young (7 month) feral kitten that was found starving and pregnant.  It was late October and no other foster families were able to take her in until she had the kittens.  She was brought to our house, the tiniest little thing with a big belly and we set up a ‘nest’ in one of our spare rooms to prepare for the inevitable and keeping her separated from the other cats while she recovered and prepared to have the kittens.  One night a few weeks later, she appeared to be going into heat.  It was disconcerting so we called the SPCA.  It turned out because she had been without food for so long, her body had started to reabsorb the fetuses, which can send them back into heat.  Unfortunately, because she had been so young and so starved, there was a massive infection requiring an operation.  She lost the kittens and underwent a few weeks recovery.  The SPCA let us know that because she wasn’t pregnant anymore they would take her back into the shelter.  Knowing she was a feral kitten I asked what her chances were for adoption.  They said they always hoped but my heart sank.  How could I send Zoe back after all she had been through only to be locked in a cage…..you know the answer, I couldn’t.  It has taken 2 years, but this assertive, unpettable, squirming feral girl, now allows us to pick her up, give her pets and has decided that our bed is her favourite place to be.

Having had such a successful foster experience, it was 6 months after that when ED Tara Clarke described her concern over a resident that had been surrendered at 11years who for 7 months refused to leave her kennel and often sat depressed
with her back to the cat room.  She feared that she would begin to deteriorate and die from physical symptoms that can result when cats get depressed from abandonment, stop eating and develop physical ailments.  After a long discussion with my husband he agreed we should meet her to see if we could do something to help.  While Abby wouldn’t come to me, the moment my husband sat in her kennel she turned toward him, climbed on his lap, curled up and sighed.   You could see her physical relief.
We took her in as a foster that day.  She and my husband have been inseparable ever since and we made a formal special application to exceed the bylaw to ensure that we gave her a legal permanent home.  That was his Christmas present this year!

Since that time my husband and I also worked with the SPCA just over Christmas to try and have the same success we had with Abby with two other residents who both suffered from such severe depression after being abandoned outside by
their owners that they refused to eat, lost 50% of their body weight and developed liver conditions.  In spite of months of special feedings, vet trips, full time care and lots of love, both Cricket and Tacoma just weren’t strong enough to come back from their conditions.  With Tara’s encouragement I have started a children’s book about the experience called Birds for Cricket based on her last moments of happiness before she passed and how she came to be in that diminished state.  Its proceeds
will benefit the SPCA.

-Perspective on adopting a rescue:  My husband and I call our perspective ‘the Max Factor’ for the first cat we ever adopted which was also an adoption from the FMSPCA.  He was an incredible boy, and the joy we experienced with him, how he filled a void we didn’t even know we had, lives on in the adoptions we have made since. Each day they find a way to trust a little more after being thrown out like garbage, beaten, abandoned and neglected.  There is nothing like it – they bring out the best in both of us.  Funny, everything I’m describing is what we gained from adopting THEM, it’s really not about doing a good deed it about doing what is right and finding out you get so much more than you imagined.    Regardless of how big our spirit is in our region, without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.  It doesn’t have to be for a shelter animal but that is where I found the heart of my heart and the synergy when you find the moment where your passion and your heart are totally in sync.  That’s where the magic is, that’s where change is made.

-Favorite quote: The world is a dangerous place not because of those that do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.  -Albert Einstein

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