Bette Joy Anderson
De Pere, WI
Nominated by Joan Nocenti
Keshena Animal Help and Rescue Group - 35 years.
Green Bay Literacy Council
Oconto Area Humane Society - 4 years
Shawano Area Humane Society - 2 years
Door County Area Humane Society-2 years
Length of Service:
Keshena Animal Help and Rescue Group - 35 years.
Hours per Month:
March 15, 2012
Ms. Anderson has spent the majority of her lifetime as an "extraordinary volunteer who makes a life and death difference" in the lives of those who can't speak for themselves. A life-long animal welfare advocate, her heart is filled with and endless compassion to help others care and provide for their own pets. Perhaps she's an angel from heaven, or perhaps she's a down-to earth individual who "gives a darn" - but whatever she is, her purpose and mission has helped numerous communities become better places for pets.
While maintaining a full-time career that included travel, and then changing careers in her later life to become a well-known realtor in the Green Bay area, Ms. Anderson always found time for volunteering. In her earlier years, she helped teach English at the Green Bay Wisconsin Literacy Center to those individuals seeking U.S. Citizenship. She also taught Sunday School classes at the West Side Moravian Church in Green Bay. But her heart and soul was devoted to animals.
Over the years, Ms. Anderson had become recognized in the community as a person to get things done. She was well-established and had gained the respect of many. She had developed a large network of friends, both personal and professional and as a result, helped organize and start the Bay Area Humane Society in Green Bay. In her 35 years as a Board member with this Humane Society, Ms. Anderson's knowledge and skills had become part of many decisions and improvements in the organization, and she was heavily involved in fund-raising.
The community awareness to her hard work and dedication had continued to grow. Again, as a result, Ms. Anderson was sought after to assist in the establishment of other area humane societies. She played a crucial role in the creation of, and start-up of the Oconto Area Humane Society. She instigated and drew people together to plan and raise money for this shelter. Once it was built, she oversaw the start-up process helping managers put processes into place. Ms. Anderson remained on this Board as a member for 4 years. Her experience in starting new shelters became a valuable resource and she was asked to assist in the start-up operations of two other regional shelters; the Door County Humane Society located in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, and the Shawano County Humane Society located in Shawano, Wisconsin.
While her volunteerism in the area of animal welfare had become well-known, it is believed that the most extraordinary act of community support by Ms. Anderson was her insight, foresight and sheer determination to make a difference for people of the Menominee Nation living on the Reservation, and their pets.
The Menominee Reservation is located in Keshena, Wisconsin. It is an area of high un-employment, and low-income. Many people of the Menominee Nation are known for enduring a life of hardship. It is no different for their dogs. Many dogs are used for hunting purposes, many for protection, and some as pets. The past history of animals on the reservation - specifically dogs, has been one of disease and illness. Parvo, a highly contagious viral disease in dogs which is characterized by vomiting, hemorrhagic diarrhea, depression and death, was rampant. Dogs inflicted with this disease, along with dogs that ran loose, and dogs that were turned into the Tribe's Animal Control Officer were shot and killed. The Tribe, and at this time, the county, had no shelter. Shooting dogs was the only strategy used for removing them from existence.
Ms. Anderson developed a special interest in helping the people of the Menominee Nation through advocacy for animal welfare. In 2003, Ms. Anderson began working with the Tribal Police Department to put into place a strategy to address Parvo and help dogs be humanely euthanized. For three years of her own accord, she would drive from Green Bay to Keshena and pick up dogs being held by Tribal police. She took on the responsibility of transporting the dogs to local shelters where they could either be put up for adoption or humanely euthanized.
Ms. Anderson's presence on the Reservation was unique. Her support and advocacy for dogs was even more remarkable. Again, she started becoming recognized by local people for her concern, compassion and commitment. Over a three-year period, she established a very positive relationship with the Tribal police and community members. As a result, Ms. Anderson was called not only for the purpose of transporting dogs to shelters, she began being contacted for other animal welfare issues. After three years of her tireless efforts, this one-woman endeavor grew in such a way that others became interested in her cause. Her sense of purpose was contagious and other individuals started volunteering with her as the needs for helping dogs on the Reservation grew.
In 2005, Ms. Anderson officially founded the "Keshena Animal Help and Rescue" group - a non-profit, 501(c) 3 for the specific purpose of helping people on the Menominee Indian Reservation help their dogs.
Today, 10 years later, the Keshena Animal Help and Rescue group has grown in such a way that it is an integral part of life on the Reservation. The group has acquired a Green Bay veterinarian who assists Ms. Anderson as a lead vet in planning, preparing for and implementing 2 annual spay and neuter clinics. He volunteers all of his time. The clinics have been held in the Tribes Maintenance Building. Employees move all vehicles out of the building and scrub it down to be as clean as possible in preparation for the event. Volunteers who include other veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and non-professionals from all over Wisconsin help in this semi-annual activity. In addition, the Keshena Animal Help and Rescue Group conduct semi-annual "Care Vans". Teams of volunteers which include veterinary technicians go from house to house checking the medical status of dogs, pulling ticks, conducting Heartworm tests, giving medications and vaccines.
Other specific activities of this organization include delivering dog food to those families in need. Working with one local shelter in particular, Ms. Anderson has secured food supplies. She drives over 300 miles weekly, often more, to the shelter to load her vehicle with the excess food donations, then drives to the Reservation going house to house ensuring that those families needing the help and support are receiving it. The Keshena Animal Help and Rescue Group have grown to include delivering Heartworm and pain medications for the dogs. Shelter for the dogs is provided as well by volunteers who make insulated dog houses so these animals can withstand the cold Wisconsin winters outdoors. Along with the doghouses, another group of volunteers oversees "tie-outs" so that the dogs remain relatively unrestricted. In the past, they would be caught up in their chains not able to move or enter their dog house.
As with any group, the Keshena Animal Help and Rescue Group continue to grow and evolve. Its Board continues to work on the development of By-Laws and a documented protocol of operation. It has a Mission Statement which is also currently being revised. The volunteers within this organization are keenly aware of Ms. Anderson having starting a rescue group unlike no other. It has no building. Members, including Ms. Anderson, are all volunteers. No one is paid any salary and until this year, no one was ever reimbursed gas. No volunteer was given any money for their efforts. The group survives on donations via the public or personal relationships that Ms. Anderson has been able to establish and foster.
The establishment of the Keshena Animal Help and Rescue Group is not only unique; it has changed the life of animals on the Reservation drastically. Ms. Anderson, along with help from Tribal police and other members of the Tribe have now reduced the disease and illnesses that were once rampant. The establishment of this group and its volunteer efforts has reduced unwanted animals through the implementation of free, semi-annual Spay-Neuter Clinics and semi-annual Care Vans. Dogs no longer starve to death. If a dog becomes sick or injured, they know Ms. Anderson and they have her direct phone number. They call her for advice, help, and medical transport.
At 81 years old, she continues to have the same drive and her commitment has never waned. Describing her sense of community obligation as "above and beyond" hardly begins to address the 70 or more hours a week of pure devotion, dedication and concern this 81 year-old woman has for animal welfare.
Ms. Anderson is not the type of person to look for recognition of her work. She simply doesn't have time for this and self-recognition is not important to her. She would rather ensure that other individuals be recognized for their work and involvement reaching an end-goal. She much prefers to develop and support a cause and let the end-result speak for itself. She views herself as a "silent leader" who knows how to organize people for a cause, and understands the development of processes needed at ground-level to initiate new endeavors. Her knowledge and experience working with people surpasses her years in age. She is wise, people-oriented and strives to encourage the development of other individuals' assets and skills.
Ms. Anderson's heart holds dreams that the Keshena Help And Rescue Group can assist and become active on other Reservations in Wisconsin as well. At night, I'm sure she lies in bed (if and when she goes to bed) dreaming and thinking about what she can do next. Lying next to her are her own animals, come to live with her from the Reservation because they were near the end of their life and wouldn't have survived longer outside.
No one is more deserving of recognition for her volunteer commitment than Ms. Anderson. Please help us recognize and acknowledge the good she has brought to so many people and their animals.
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