“She’s an amazing person, so gifted. To be shovelling manure one minute and painting a beautiful picture or writing the next. She does it all.”
This is how Chris Grauer, director of logistics for Critteraid, described Janette Damsa.
He was speaking at a farewell dinner arranged by the volunteers that was held for Damsa last Wednesday evening. He thanked her on behalf of the board of directors, for all that she has done for Critteraid over the last 15 months in her role as live-in caretaker.
Damsa has been living above the cat sanctuary and was responsible for the care of all the animals at the sanctuary as well as fixing fences, arranging tours of the property and interacting with the many volunteers that come to the farm daily.
Due to the consuming demands of the job, Damsa said she had decided to leave and move to a friend’s property in Oliver. She has plans to spend more time with her own animals and pursue her other interests.
“We think she has been wonderful. She’s an animal person, but she is many other things,” said Barb Chambers, one of the volunteers. “I’m really sorry she’s leaving. She’s been a breath of fresh air. I think it is a real loss.”
Damsa described her time on the farm as a wonderful learning experience.
“I think the highlight for me has been getting to know the cats and to see the changes in them.”
She has also enjoyed working with the volunteers.
“They have all been so amazing and all I hear from them is encouragement and positive feedback.”
Before coming to the property as caretaker, Damsa had been fostering a wild mare, named Avalon, for Critteraid.
“They had rescued five wild horses and needed people to work with them, so I volunteered to foster the horse and work with her. I had her on my other farm,” explained Damsa. “When they asked me to come to the farm here, I brought Avalon with me.”
Now that Damsa is leaving, there is uncertainty over what will happen to the horse.
“When I move I want to take her with me and continue fostering her. I’m the only person she’s trusted so far and she’s bonded with my horse Padre,” said Damsa.
She also said Critteraid wants to keep the mare on their property and have her travel back and forth from Oliver to continue working with and training Avalon.
“What they are asking of me is not feasible,” she said.
In thanking the volunteers at the gathering, Damsa said to them, “You are really the most amazing group of people I have ever worked with.”
She described for them the place where she will be living as a four acre piece of property, with three acres in horse pasture. Half of it is treed with a river and trail outside the back gate.
She also explained the progress she has made with the mare over the last two years.
“My training program with Avalon occurs twice a day. Every time I feed her I touch her. I am now able to go up to her and she will eat out of my hand,” she said. “I feel it is important to keep this daily contact with her. I am going to ask the board once again to let me take Avalon with me when I leave with Padre. I think it would be very disruptive to Avalon to be separated from him. I am asking that I may either adopt Avalon, or continue fostering her.”
A job posting for a new live-in Caretaker has been posted on the Critteraid website.
They describe themselves as an animal sanctuary that is committed to keeping the lives of the animals free from anxiety and encouraging adoption to responsible caring human beings.
Critteraid is a registered charity that operates entirely on donations, grants and volunteer support.