'Keep climbing that mountain'
Pretoria - Not many people would quit their job to tackle a cause as vast as animal abuse. Fewer still, with just R500 in the bank.
But Tracy Forte, who grew up rescuing animals as a little girl on a Delmas farm, just couldn't watch healthy animals being killed.
"I wanted to start something completely different for animals," says the 44-year-old mother from Pretoria East. "A home from home until they get a little place under the sun."
News24 asked users to nominate their local heroines for Women's Month, and Tracy, who has clearly inspired those closest to her, received four nominations from people who work at the Wet Nose animal rescue centre she started ten years ago.
"Tracy gives all she has to her cause," said Lorrein Da Silva, who serves on the board of directors of the non-profit organisation.
"No matter all the threats that she receives from the public, Tracy goes on regardless!" said a volunteer, Pagan J Venter, while Lelanie West described her as loving, caring and with "lots of guts".
Tracy left behind a comfortable job at an attorney's office to do what she loves - and the going hasn't been easy. There have been long hours and constant battles.
But her organisation has grown to employ 18 people, shut down puppy mills in high profile cases featured in the media, and rescue thousands of animals - including a horse from Zimbabwe.
News24 turned to her for inspiration this Women's Month.
Q. When are you at your happiest?
Most definitely when I'm saving animals and giving them a second chance.
Q. What keeps you going?
The rehabilitation. We get animals in a very bad state and that is heartbreaking but when I look at them I know that we can give them a second chance and it's not long before we're going to put spirits back into their little souls. You can't save them all but those you touch you can save and that has been our message.
Q. Your message to the public?
People must understand that animals are sentient beings and they feel pain and people must not abuse animals - it's wrong. Experts say that serial killers in history have always started with animal abuse. And please sterilise your pets - that's why our slogan is: "Don't breed or buy while homeless animals die". Sterilisation is vital.
Q. What is your advice this Women's month?
If you've got a dream and you've got a passion, just because you're a woman don't think that you can't do it, because you can. You must follow that dream and you must follow that passion.
Don't give up. When you feel you just can't anymore and you want to quit, that's when you don't give up and you take that last step and you just climb that mountain out till the end. You can conquer it; you can be what you want to be.
- Find out more about the Wetnose animal rescue centre here.
- News24 wants to
celebrate the local heroines in your community this Women's Month. Know of a woman who has
dedicated herself to making a difference? Tell us about her and she could be featured in a mini-profile like this one on News24. Click here to
tell us why your nomination