The Difference Your Gift Makes

Diane Haynes — A Mouse for a Muse

In 1995, Vancouver writer Diane Haynes adopted a tiny grey kitten with enormous ears and a wispy tail. He reminded her so much of a mouse that it became his name. Mouse soon grew to become her devoted companion and the first link in a chain that led to Diane’s gift to the UBC Animal Welfare program.

“Mouse opened my eyes to all animals,” Diane says. “This one little creature had a unique personality, and he helped me see the animating spirit in each animal’s eyes.”

Diane’s open eyes allowed her to observe a distressed duck in Burrard Inlet one February morning in 2000. She and two friends rescued an oil-covered surf scoter from the frigid water, and delivered it to the Wildlife Rescue Association (WRA) in Burnaby, where she found volunteers working around the clock to save oiled animals. A year later, she became a volunteer herself.

Diane’s involvement with WRA inspired her to enrol in “Animal Welfare and the Ethics of Animal Use”’, in the UBC Animal Welfare Program. “It was mind-opening,” Diane observes, “and it got me thinking of applying to the graduate program. I was partway through that process when I ran into the publisher of Whitecap Books, and he invited me to submit a proposal for a series of novels for young people with animal rescue, mystery and adventure themes.” And so Jane Ray’s Wildlife Rescue Series was born, telling the story of one young girl’s fight to make a difference on behalf of the animals she loves. Diane dedicated the first book in the series to Mouse.

When Mouse was five years old he was diagnosed with a heart murmur and given about a year to live. In fact, he lived for six more years, and when he died, Diane decided to establish a scholarship in the Animal Welfare program to honour how much Mouse had changed her life.

“This scholarship is the only one in the Program that isn’t tied to one type of animal or area of study,” she says. “It supports students who are looking at reducing animal suffering through education, the media and law. There’s a world of change available to us if we can change the way we think of animals.”

Meaghan Cant, a two-time recipient of the Haynes Scholarship for the Advancement of Animal Welfare, couldn’t agree more. She’s working full-time as an Animal Welfare Educator at the BC SPCA while completing her Masters in Animal Science, and her focus is very much on changing the way people think of animals.

“I really enjoy taking what I have learned in the Animal Welfare Program at a sophisticated scientific level and turning it into concepts that children and teens can understand,” she says. “At the SPCA we want kids to understand more about all kinds of animals: pets, wildlife and farm animals.”

Meaghan is grateful for the scholarship’s financial support. “There aren’t many awards out there for people studying animal welfare, so I felt honoured to receive the scholarship twice. I really encourage people who care about animals to contribute to the award so it can help more students.”