Words by Anna Lee Vaughn | Images by Justin Hunter
“I’m just an old woman who loves God and loves all the animals He created!” says Susie Vann with a smile.
During the day, Susie is a legal secretary and bookkeeper for Jasper’s longstanding legal firm, Jackson, Fikes, and Brakefield, but in her free time, she pours into her lifelong passion: animals.
From a young age, Susie’s parents instilled in her the value of a good pet and taught her to treat pets like family. These values followed her into adulthood and now inspire her work in animal rescue. “These animals have been abandoned, and we can help them flourish with veterinary care and a good loving foster home. And then we can find them their permanent place,” she says.
For 35 years, Susie has been a member of the Walker County Humane Society. Though the humane society used to run the city animal shelter, the group is now an independent nonprofit organization that rescues animals, offers low-cost spaying and neutering, and runs a pet food pantry. The members of the Humane Society foster each animal rescued, pouring their own time, money, and resources into caring for them and finding them a home.
Susie’s approach includes not only showing love to animals in need, but also to their owners. “It is all about the animal, but it’s also about how we can help the person with a little love and compassion, education, and assistance. Sometimes that’s all it takes to get somebody where they need to be to treat their animal like God would want them to,” she says.
Susie describes the team at Jackson, Fikes, and Brakefield as ‘fantastic,’ says they are all animal lovers as well, and counts her blessings as she can simultaneously be a part of the team at her office and the animal community. She compares the love of a dog to the unconditional love of God and believes the best way for her to honor God is to care for His creation.
Susie imparts the following wisdom to those of us in her community: “Always show kindness and spay and neuter your cats and dogs!” she says. “Over the course of six years, cats will exponentially produce 420,000 kittens, and dogs 67,000 puppies. Spaying and neutering are critical, but so is being kind.” WL