Friday June 26, 2020

Dear Friend of the Animals

Last Friday the Hamilton community and beyond lost a champion of humane justice for all. Regan Russell died tragically in Burlington protesting the treatment and transport of pigs to a rendering plant.

I met Regan some years ago. She and her partner Mark renovated houses in the neighbourhood. Her tall, gracious and quiet comportment was familiar to many. I met her again more formally in my role as CEO at the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA. I learned how she helped elementary students understand the importance of animals, the need for compassion for all animals and the need to stand up when they saw abuse.  We talked about the growing population of abandoned and homeless cats – street cats – and what can be done to ensure all cats are healthy, safe and wanted. Over time, we shared stories about elder support, and the importance of community to keep people safe and connected in their neighbourhoods. Her aunt Margaret lived down the street from me with her dog; I’m not sure who was looking out for whom.

Locally, Regan was a one woman rescue. Regan looked out for street cats and socialised, spayed and neutered and found homes for cats. She found second chance homes for dogs who lost their home. She helped transition her aunt’s dog to new pet parents when her aunt was dying, ensuring everyone was confident about his future. My corner convenience store called Regan one time when a bird was inside; Regan worked for an hour to safely “free” the bird. Regan and Mark were pillars of support when their friends of 40 years suffered a house fire recently.

Regan was committed, passionate and tireless in her aspiration for a humane world. She was intelligent and unshakeable. Yet Regan was approachable, non judgmental and open to a discussion with anyone any time. As a colleague recently said to me – “she was not in your face”. And this was her gift. One felt drawn to engage should the tough and sometimes polarizing conversations arise, and deliberate and reflect.

I heard someone recently make the distinction between being hopeful and being optimistic. He likened hope to a feeling, and optimism to a mindset. Regan Russell  was optimistic.

Keep safe. Remember the path Regan chose. Be kind.


Marion Emo
President and CEO
Keeping Distance Staying Connected.

The HBSPCA Trap Neuter Vaccinate Return (TNVR) program subsidizes spay/neuter for community cats, sometimes called street cats. The benefits of TNVR for community cats include

  • a gradual decrease in numbers
  • Improved health
  • Reduced nuisance behaviours
  • Reduced risk of rabies spread
  • Reduced risk for birds and small mammal lives

Learn more on our website /services/spayneuter/trap-neuter-return/