There are few of us who have not nurtured a dream; perhaps only a modest, self-indulgent wish for a change of fortune for ourselves or our loved ones, perhaps an unattainable broad vision of a better world and a yearning to have even a tiny part in helping to create it. Alas, not all of us have the energy and determination even to attempt to turn such a dream into reality.
Thora Scanlan-Bonneau had that energy and determination, and a vision; of a world where all animals would enjoy respect, where they would not be exploited or abused, where there would be no abandoned, starving stray cats or dogs, and where there would be loving, caring homes for all who needed them. She promised herself that she would do what she could to make her dream a reality, and would preach the gospel of love for all living creatures.
With the help of her family she rescued and sheltered hundreds of stray and mistreated cats and kittens, spoke out at every opportunity on behalf of animals, and did everything possible to raise awareness of animal needs and rights. With her own funds and with sympathetic professional help, she began the Bonneau Spay Fund to reduce the surplus kitten population by offering financial assistance to pet owners. But she knew that the problems even in her small corner of the world were so overwhelming that there would have to be a more organized, structured approach if any real headway were to be made.
At that point, about thirty years ago, the Victoria Cat Rescue Corps was born. Thora’s vision was gradually coming into focus. She recruited at first a small group of people from all walks of life, who shared her love of animals. Some of them helped her rescue homeless animals, usually in the middle of the night. Others, who could not brave the cold dark rescue operations, raised funds by organizing Teas, Bazaars, and Raffle Sales.
Thora continued to work tirelessly, day and night, to improve the lot of helpless creatures, and educate the public in any way possible. She would not give up her dream, and no one could match her determination - she felt it was her duty to ease the suffering that she saw, and she had little understanding of those volunteers who could not give 150% of their time and energy to the cause. Do not think that Thora was a humourless taskmaster. In spite of all the hard work, she took great joy from the animals she helped, and from researching the Irish roots of her family tree. She had an infectious giggle, and no one could forget the mischievous twinkle in her eye.
Thora’s little group gradually grew to the present number of 200 members. The Bonneau Spay Fund is still operating, and over the years has helped thousands of animals get the medical attention that they need. This is an amazing legacy from an amazing woman.
Thora was a friend to all animals, and a friend to all who love animals. Her philosophy, which became the motto of the Cat Rescue Corps, was: “There is a universal language, understood by every living creature, and it is called love.” Our dream is that those of us who loved Thora will be able to honour her beliefs and her accomplishments by doing our part, however small, to keep her dream alive. She would want no better memorial than that.
Norah Couchman and Pamela Slyth
For the Victoria Cat Rescue Corps