By Sandi Barrett, Contributing Writer
Sudbury – Leading a successful nonprofit for over 20 years is a testament to love, dedication, and an ever present desire to make a difference.
Shirley Moore’s career path was traditional. However, she found herself commuting into Boston for a high tech job that didn’t provide her any joy. The daily trip was emotionally draining and when the city skyline come into view each day, as a feeling of dread and sadness enveloped her, she knew this was not her destiny.
During this time, Moore and her husband Dave Bernier volunteered at a shelter to give back to their community and serve the dogs they loved. Unbeknownst to them, they were preparing the way for their future. In 1999, they began a dog fostering program out of their home, giving birth to Save A Dog.
The nonprofit humane society’s primary focus is rescuing and rehoming abandoned dogs. It works to educate about pet overpopulation and the need to “adopt” rather than “buy”. The society also works with humane society in the rural south, taking in groups of dogs from those regions and finding them forever homes in the New England area.
While working full-time, Moore began taking in rescues, finding qualified foster homes, and eventually a forever home for each dog. This time consuming side hustle required her to be available 24/7 to cover emergencies, general care, and meet-and-greets.
Over the years, the Moores have fostered over 1,000 dogs in their own home. Holding down a full-time job, raising two children, wrangling volunteer foster parents, and fostering multiple dogs in her home left Moore little time for hobbies.
“I love to garden. Every spring I’m gung ho about planting, but then I get too busy to take care of it,” she lamented.
In 2008, Save A Dog moved into its permanent home at 604 Boston Post Road in Sudbury. The kennel was now Shirley’s full time gig. The dream of operating a kennel dedicated to rescuing unwanted dogs and helping them find their forever homes was a glorious reality.
Moore, a staunch believer in holistic medicine, stumbled upon it by accident. She had a very sick foster whose treatment was going to be thousands of dollars. Desperate to find an alternative, she discovered the Teleosis Institute in Cambridge.
“Homeopathy changed my life,” she said.
In nursing the dog back to health, she became convinced the future care for people and their pets lies in the holistic path.
Moore is committed to education and is continually learning about canine behavior, signals, and reactions. She runs an enrichment program with Mt. Ida College where interns assist at the shelter. She oversees “lunch and learns” for the students imparting years of knowledge to the next generation of canine caregivers.
Save A Dog is currently running a Legacy Bricks Fundraiser. The bricks will line the front walkway commemorating four and two legged family members. Bricks are $150 and $300. The proceeds will be used to upgrade the kennel, a priority for Moore. This will allow showings to take place indoors and ease the flow during bad weather.
Shirley’s life has always been family focused. Her son, Tommy and his wife Kaitlyn have blessed her with two granddaughters. Additionally, she will soon be celebrating her daughter Mindy and fiancee Jesse’s wedding.
“Spending time with my grandchildren is my retirement plan,” she said.
“My goal as I reach retirement age, is to pass the torch of the Executive Director to someone with the same vision and commitment. I’ll have to fib about how many hours a day it takes,” she said with a wink.
Moore will continue to be a champion for wayward dogs. Not able to slow down, the Moores have opened Natural Care Kennels in Northborough as their retirement gig. Their leisure years will be filled with loving kennel guests, overseeing Save A Dog, and enjoying their grandchildren.
For more information on Save a Dog, visit www.saveadog.org or call 978-443-7282.