Changemakers - Michaela Newell
27 January 2012 at 12:47 pm
Michaela Newell, from The Animal Rehoming Service Inc. (TARS), is profiled in Changemakers, a regular column which examines inspiring people and their careers in the Not for Profit sector.
The Animal Rehoming Service Inc. (TARS) is a Melbourne based charity which has found loving, permanent homes for over 3000 animals, of every description.
What drew you to the not-for-profit sector?
It wasn’t premeditated –it just happened! I’d always been animal obsessed, finding strays, joining various animal rights groups, etc. but it was only when I started dealing with animal related businesses, through my work as State Manager with a pet food company, that I managed to stumble across a way of helping animals more directly. I’d see “Free to Good Home” signs at pet shops and vet clinics, or would hear of pets being abandoned at kennels or catteries, so I’d let friends and family know. It resulted in quite a few adoptions.
The odd phone call or email, eventually turned into a regular adoption newsletter, going out to a thousand or so animal lovers. I was then encouraged to formalise the service into a registered charity. Some fantastic people offered to help as board members, we increased the number of our very passionate foster carers, set up a website and attained DGR status. Despite being around since 2000, we’ve just set up our Facebook page – better late than never!
What do you like best about working in your current organisation?
I love the feedback and photos we get from those who adopt through us. The animals are sometimes unrecognisable, such is their transformation from being an ‘unwanted burden’ to an adored pet!
I also like the way we’ve inadvertently remodelled the usual adoption process, in a way that avoids the use of shelter or pound facilities. It’s a cheaper operating model and more importantly, a far less traumatic one for the animals involved, as they go from their old home to their new home, subject to a trial period.
My greatest challenge is staying calm when people tell me they no longer want their pet, because a) their old dog doesn’t go with the décor of their new home, so they’re getting a coffee coloured pup which will better match, b) they’ve just split up with their partner and their pet reminds them of their ex, so it has to go or c) they can’t afford to keep it, as they drive off in their convertible…..
School (and my upbringing) taught me I can do anything!