June 8, 2008

It is just so incredible, a dream come true.” — Linda Laurus

If this was an animated Disney movie, the little animals would be up and dancing all around her farmhouse. The chipmunks holding hands with the squirrels holding hands with the skunks holding hands with the racoons holding hands with the groundhogs holding hands with the foxes holding hands with the weasels, and they’d be hugging, kissing, skipping along the table tops, window ledges, and singing:

“Just when we were thinking / Hope was all gone
You opened your hearts / You got it on.
For us, for mom Linda / For all our tomorrows
No more tears / No more sorrows.”

Linda Laurus, trying hard not to cry, is overwhelmed at the goodness and generosity of all those who, answering the call of the wild, rose to the fore to help save her volunteer-based, non-profit, registered charity Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary near North Gower from imminent death. “It has all been so amazing. I don’t know how to thank them.”

The only such operation in the area with a mandate to take in, rehabilitate, and release back into nature little animals, many of them babies, that have been abandoned or orphaned or injured or gone astray, the RVWS under the licenced expert Linda Laurus, who founded it, has been the saviour to hundreds of tiny critters since 2005, the need so successful that Linda, who has been harbouring them in the living quarters of her old farmhouse, has virtually run out of space, but her love for God’s small creatures will not let her deny them.

Heartbreakingly for her, it had reached the point where the unpaid Linda Laurus and her small group of dedicated volunteers would soon have to say no to sheltering the animals, which has always been nutritionally and medically costly for a small charity — one of such noble cause, but, alas, little public awareness that severely crimped its efforts to raise funds. The sanctuary was only weeks away from having to go under.

There was, however, an answer. The old, rundown, unused stable at the back of Laurus’ house. But to convert it into a spacious home for the animals would be expensive, about $35,000, money the RVWS simply didn’t have.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a piece about the sanctuary’s plight — accompanied by photographer Tony Caldwell’s wonderful photos of Linda and her animals — appealing for donations as well as volunteer carpenters, plumbers, electricians, handypersons of any kind, along with donated building supplies to renovate the stable.

The response? More than $20,000 from caring citizens and businesses, donations still coming in. On top of that, volunteer carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and other trades people. The project under the expert work, and guidance, of two beautiful people in particular who were the first to offer their services: Michael Kruse, a construction manager with Aecon Buildings of Ottawa, and his sister Carol. Working his professional contacts, Kruse has come up with volunteers and donated building materials.

His children, Hailey and Natasha, have gone door-to-door with their red wagon, soliciting funds and needed small items, such as towels.

“Businesses,” says Linda, “have been donating interior doors and frames, new exterior windows, new interior viewing windows, paint, counters. The volunteers are working on sinks, roof insulation, roof repairs, flooring, ceiling tiles, plumbing. Mike and Carol are organizing all of the labour. The support has been incredible.”

So much so that the new home for the little animals, says Linda Laurus, is expected to be ready by the first week of July. The sundry RVWS operational expenses, though, are an ongoing thing, the need for compassionate funding.
If you wish to support the sanctuary of the amazing Linda Laurus, you can do so through its website at and by e-mailing her at or by calling 613-258-9480.

Her mailing address is:
Linda Laurus, Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, PO Box 266, North Gower, Ont. KOA 2TO. Donations can also be made through and tax receipts will be given.