Don Anderson became the face of Abandoned Pet Rescue, even though he never held an official position with the no-kill shelter.
He spent much of his final years volunteering at the Fort Lauderdale shelter and finding places for abandoned dogs and cats to live, often at his own house. Anderson, 80, died unexpectedly in his home, leaving a huge void in the shelter that had become his second home.
“His heart went out to every animal, especially ones that had been mistreated or experienced trauma of any kind,” said SueAnn Hansen, director of Abandoned Pet Rescue. “He was just the most wonderful person.”
His active retirement, which also included raising two foster children, capped off what his friends and family described as a life of caring.
Anderson grew up in Holden, Mass. After serving for the U.S. Army in Vietnam, he spent a decade as a monk with the Episcopal Society of Saint Francis, said his sister, Jan Maki.
“He’d always been a religious person and always wanted to help people,” she said.
One of his missions brought him to Calcutta, India, to work alongside Mother Teresa in a shelter his sister described as “the house of the dead and dying.”
“They picked people out of the gutters and carried them back, cleaned them up, and laid them on cots,” Maki said.
Anderson moved to South Florida in the 1990s to take a job in the financial office of the University of Miami School of Medicine, his sister said. Anderson and his partner, Richard Deutchman, bought a house in Poinsettia Heights, where they lived with their two dogs.
After Deutchman died in 2012, Anderson decided to devote his free time to Abandoned Pet Rescue.
“He started volunteering more and more until every day of his life was taken up with chores and activities for the shelter,” Hansen said. “He was there folding laundry, washing dishes, answering the phone, greeting people. He did everything.”
He became one of the shelter’s top foster parents, taking in animals with ailments or disabilities who were hard to place, until they could find a permanent home.
At one point, he had 15 dogs and three cats, his sister said.
He also cared for humans too. In his 70s, he provided foster care for two boys who came from troubled homes. One is now married and in the Marines, the other is in high school, according to friends and loved ones.
“He had so much energy,” Hansen said. “The man was just phenomenal. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone like him who was so giving, and I don’t know that I ever will again”
Here are three simple ways that you can honor Don’s memory.
The first is to visit our Facebook page and make a donation with the fundraiser we have established there. https://www.facebook.com/donate/138472898396709/
The 2nd is to visit our web site at https://abandonedpetrescue.org/make-a-donation/ and chose any of the options available there.
Or consider purchasing a Memorial Wall Tile in Don’s memory. https://abandonedpetrescue.org/memorial-wall-tiles/
PUBLISHED JULY 3, 2021