MORE THAN NINE LIVES: Barbara Steffensen, the CEO of Animal Rights and Rescue Service, is set to retire after 18 years spent saving thousands of abandoned animals.
MORE THAN NINE LIVES: Barbara Steffensen, the CEO of Animal Rights and Rescue Service, is set to retire after 18 years spent saving thousands of abandoned animals. Patrick Gorbunovs

Animal Rights and Rescue boss stepping down after 18 years

IN the corner of a South Lismore shed, Barbara Steffensen fields a series of phone calls regarding the logistics of rescuing a dog owned by a domestic violence victim fleeing for her life.

While she is affected by the victim's plight, it's just another day in the office for the founder and CEO of the Animal Rights and Rescue Group.

Ms Steffensen should have no regrets about retiring after 18 years at the helm of the non-kill animal rescue service, having facilitated the rescue of literally thousands of animals.

But the volunteer-based rescue group, which provides the city's only foster, adoption and desexing program, is again on the cusp of closing.

To replace Ms Steffensen, who has never been paid a wage, and to form a sound business plan, the service needs financial assistance.

An Alstonville couple has promised to donate $7500 every year for three years but it is not enough and the service is currently seeking funding from council.

Ms Steffensen said the organisation needs an annual injection of $25,000 from council to help maintain the service and pay her replacement Suzanne Lavis.

"I think people tend to think I'm this crazy cat lady who just loves to receive abandoned animals," she said.

"I have to remind people, and often council, that this is a professional operation."

The group is the go-to 24-hour service for agencies such as Lismore Hospital, Richmond Mental Health clinic, Department of Aged & Disability and the Women's & Child Refuge.

The Animal Rights and Rescue Group is seeking 1000 signatures for a petition in their campaign to save the service.

You can write a letter in favour of a council contribution to PO Box 987, Lismore, NSW 2480, or sign the online petition at the Animal Rights and Rescue Group website.



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