Pets Niagara People

Founder and Executive Director

biowebpic.jpgHello, fellow pet lovers, I'm Susan Young. I'd like to provide you with an overview of my experience and interests so that you may have the opportunity to get to know me.  Any work or information that I provide on this website is drawn from my many years of direct research and practical experience.  Any articles posted on this web site or any advice or assistance I provide is not to be construed in any manner whatsoever as constituting legal or medical advice.

My love of our fellow creatures started before I was able to walk or talk.  I shared my playpen and my stroller with our black cat.  I wish I knew her name.  Those that could tell me are now all gone or unable to speak or recollect distant times.  From that day to this, no less than 6 dogs, 15 cats and 1 horse (plus many schooling horses) have called our space, home.  Like all of you, I've had many heart-breaking good-byes but equally as many happy hours owing to the unselfish devotion my pets have provided to me.

I have also forged two firsts concerning pets in the Niagara Region.  During 1980/81 a friend and myself found ourselves in court, as defendants, locked in a battle with our landlord concerning certain matters that, instead, became a fight for the rights of tenants in this Region to enjoy their constitutional freedom to own pets and house those pets in rental units.  My friend and I, thanks to the skill of our legal counsel and deft choice of witnesses, were successful in that action paving the way for all tenants to obtain and enjoy pet ownership rights in rented facilities.

The second "first" arrived wrapped in a very unhappy set of circumstances.  During the 1980s I lived in Merriton neighbouring a factory that, after decades of operation, was shut-down.  Shortly after the last whistle blew I was inundated with factory cats.  At one point I counted 40 on my patio. All were very hungry. All were very thirsty. All were very cold.  I put out as much food, water and shelters as I could rally.  One-by-one the cat population dissapated.  From amongst the ranks a pure white, long-haired fighter emerged.  He was in terrible shape.  His head and body were covered in open sores.  I tried to bribe him to let me pick up him long enough so that I could get him to my veterinarian.  He was too skitterish.  All I could do was watch him despatch one cat after another, day in and day out, until only he was left occupying my patio.  By that time, he was feeling very poorly and at last, I could achieve a lift into my cat carrier to get him to the animal hospital.  He stayed in hospital for a few days to have the sores debrided and medical treatment started after which point he came home and into my house with me and my 3 other cats.  I named the new fellow, Thomas.  He settled right in but still continued in his attempts to rid my house of my one dominant male.  It was odd that Thomas never bothered with my ginger male.  Thomas failed.

After several months I noticed that the two of my fighters were a little listless, just not their usual spunky selves.  Another trip to the vet's office, more tests and a diagnosis that cut through me like a knife.  They had Feline Immunodeficiency Virus - the feline version of the human HIV virus.  Their doctor advised that this was a new and emerging disaster and that I was first, to his knowledge, in the Region to have the disease actually diagnosed in living cats.  We repeated the tests, and then tested the 7 other cats in our family - twice - to be certain there were no false positives.  The disease was so new to the area that I also had to have my friend's cat tested.  Again, a clear result.  All of the cats were clear.

With the double positive tests in hand, my vet's recommendation - the recommendation of the medical college - was to have my babies euthanized immediately to prevent the accidental spread of the disease to other cats.  I asked if there was anything that he knew of that could help treat their condition to prolong their lives in a healthy state.  Vigilent care of the health and vigilent care of the home environment were all he could offer, indoor only and keep these two separate from other cats that might come in to the house.  Not much was known of the course of the disease or the prognosis.  But they did suspect that it was not zoonotic - not transmissable to humans.  That was good enough for me and thus began a long saga of care for my two FIV-infected pets.  They both lived about 8 years beyond their diagnosis and have been gone now for 17 years.  The age of Thomas was hard to estimate because of his rough factory life.  My other fellow I knew was 10.  So, despite a demanding health condition they did quite well.  Eventually, Thomas suffered recurring bouts of pneumonia that became more difficult to cure.  My other fellow, oddly, developed a squamous cell oral cancer - incurable and swift.  Both of them went together.  That was a heart-breaking day!

Volunteer & Charitable Activities

1971-1980: Founding member, United Animal Protection Society (registered Ontario charity), St. Catharines

1980-1993: Founding member, Animal Assistance Society (registered Ontario charity), St. Catharines. Pivotal roles: organizer and fund collector annual tag days; co-producer and stage manager Variety Show & Review; creative director float Grape & Wine Parade; animal retrieval and transport, inter alia

1970s to date: Continuing Supporter, Ontario S.P.C.A., World Wildlife Federation, Red Cross

Academic achievements

1974 Grad., Humanities and The Liberal Arts, West Coast College, Westminster, California

1977 Diploma, Law and Business Administration, St. Catharines College, Mason's Hall Campus, Ontario

1980 Diploma, Realty Licensing, Niagara College, Welland Vale Campus, Ontario

1988 Certification, Law Clerk (Ontario), Law Society of Upper Canada, Osgoode Hall, Toronto, Ontario

2013 ongoing, ASPCAPro, continuing education and skills development in rescue, care, adoption, shelter management

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