Animal programs

Stuffed animal sanctuary pays dividends for real

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Mitchell’s Della Barr-Chalmers intends to care for or study animals. She is undecided, and at this point in her life her future vocation changes from week to week. It’s understandable, really, because she’s only six years old.


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The grade 1 student at Upper Thames Elementary School (UTES) in Mitchell has spent the last 10 months or so rehabilitating stuffed animals she finds by the side of the road, in the ditch or in the garbage.

She found out about animal shelters through a TV show she loved, and also by taking online classes earlier this year.

It all started, she and her mother Jennifer recalled when they found an abandoned stuffed unicorn near the Morrison Dam outside of Exeter on a hike last March.

“It mostly needed a bath,” Della said.

This sparked her desire to operate her own “stuffed animal sanctuary” and she spent time rehabilitating her stuffed animals and getting them adopted. She recently collected all of her adoption fees and donated them to Out of the Ashes, a large animal sanctuary in Sebringville.

Della’s mother said their initial goal was $ 50, but with the participation of family, friends and neighbors, she was able to raise and donate $ 420.

She presented the check to Out of the Ashes founder / operator Angie Hurst on December 12, who was delighted with the contribution.

“Della is an amazing girl,” Hurst said in an email. “When I heard what she was doing for us, my heart melted. What an incredible selfless gesture, and from such a young girl.

“When Della arrived at the barn with her donation, I was more than surprised at the amount of money she raised. It’s so heartwarming to see such a young animal lover, ”continued Hurst.


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“Looks like the world has another budding rescue owner on their hands!” “

Jennifer said the family had no connection to Out of the Ashes, but wanted to help out a local wildlife sanctuary and that fitted the bill once they did a bit of research.

Some older people in the neighborhood took in the ‘animals’ and once they were ready to find permanent homes they once again spread the word and raised funds through a Facebook group they created and a sale. at subsequent auction, reaching as far as British Columbia and Ottawa.

Friends invited friends over and some donated additional soft toys because Della did not have any more to auction off, her mother said.

Out of the Ashes offers a “forever home” to large (and sometimes small) animals. These animals were, for one reason or another, unwanted, unadoptable, mistreated, mistreated and / or neglected. Hurst said it is guaranteed that every animal he cares for is provided with medical care, shelter, food, clean water and that their nutritional and emotional needs are met on a daily basis.

Hurst said many of their animals have been moved to different homes throughout their lives – for this reason, and many more, when an animal arrives at Out of the Ashes, it has a home for the life.

Although they specialize in caring for older, high-maintenance equines, they are also home to a variety of animals including cattle, buffaloes, goats, sheep, llamas, ducks, chickens and Moreover.

According to their website, caring for the more than 90 animals that roam their 40-acre pasture daily is an important task, especially since many animals require specialized care, time, and attention.


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Ongoing fundraisers help take care of the animals, so Barr-Chalmers’ donation was well received.

Out of the Ashes started in 2011 and for the past 10 years they’ve helped those who can’t help themselves, and in October 2020 they officially became a non-profit.

Needless to say, Della’s bedroom is filled with a variety of stuffed animals, some of which she herself adopted thanks to the generosity of Facebook friends. She also has a “homemade incubator” that she is made out of cardboard boxes so that injured stuffed animals can be warm while they recover.

“Sometimes I put blankets over the cold days,” Della said.

“It amused her during online school,” her mother says, adding that she is quite proud of her daughter’s efforts.



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