By Christine Stickley
Approximately ten-ish years ago, I met with a friend’s daughter that I just barely knew. She had an impressive amount of education and an amazing heart for animals and had business and legal questions for me about this thing she wanted to do. The meeting was to discuss achieving IRS 501(c)(3) status for a non-profit she wanted to start. I learned at the meeting that the business had really already kind of started and the lack of any real formalities and legal safety nets in place may have freaked me out a bit. After the meeting, she had secured an amazing attorney who would be helping her with the IRS paperwork for free and examples from me of bylaws and other documents she would need to formalize for the organization. And, I openly admit to you all, I may have rolled my eyes and shook my head at the crazy, train wreck, farfetched pipe dream she was working on.
Fast forward ten-ish years and now that young woman seemingly encouraging a train wreck is Britney Wallesch, best practices creator, TEDx speaking, nationally known, award winning, animal loving, mind changing, energizer bunny-esque Executive Director of the largest nonprofit companion animal rescue and advocacy organization in the State of Wyoming. Yep, that meeting was to chat with Britney about her pipe dream idea for Black Dog Animal Rescue.
Throughout the last 10 years I have been a volunteer in several capacities for BDAR and have watched it grow from a pipe dream to a non-profit with no budget, no employees, and no real address, to a thriving organization with actual money, multiple (paid!) employees, and one which is currently working outgrowing its second physical address.
With all the amazing press that BDAR is getting, it is clear that the organization is succeeding at saving the lives of an astonishing number of animals who had little to no chance of survival before its creation. But in my experience, the organization is much bigger and much more than the individual lives it is saving. It is an organization that is changing ideas and educating and pushing boundaries. It is an organization that is challenging view points and standing up to poor practices. It is an organization that has taken the term no-kill from the anger and fear inducing, offensive, dark pit it resided in in Wyoming to a term that is now used openly and discussed widely.
So why is this writing titled, How BDAR Changed My Life? Well, ten years ago, I was a woman who shook my head and rolled my eyes at a young woman with a crazy farfetched pipe dream. That woman and BDAR continue to show and teach me that when you believe in something, you get back up, brush yourself off and try again and again, no matter how many times you get knocked down. They continue to show and teach me that some messages are worth repeating over and over and over again until someone finally hears them. They continue to show and teach me that when you need to, you knock and you knock and you knock until someone finally opens the door. Because when you truly believe in something good that you know is going to change lives, it’s bigger than you and it’s worth it. And crazy farfetched dreams really can come true.