Kim Hessel has been the driving force behind the local animal shelter Heaven Can Wait.

But it's been a long journey filled with many ups and downs.

So, what drives her to look after so many animals in order to find them a forever home?

It comes right from her heart.

It all started back before she moved to High River when she noticed some abandoned kittens in an industrialized area in Calgary.

"That's actually where 'rescue' in its own weird way for me anyway started because you don't expect to see baby kittens in an industrial area of the city that are scrawny and not eating... what are these cats doing here? And one thing kinda led to another."

She started feeding them and looking after them and then some life changes happened.

"You know it's funny though because sometimes life moves you in a different direction and that's really kind of what happened. It was a combination of things and sometimes the most important things in your life end up being by fluke. So, a number of things happened, I moved out to High River... and was commuting back and forth, you know I always had pets and obviously cared about my animals, but the bigger picture really wasn't clear to me.

Then I met Dr. Torrence and that started a different outlook of animal welfare from a veterinarian point of view where you're dealing with so many different things from loved and cared for pets to the breeders to the people that don't care about their animals and they're just dropping them off to people in the rescue community.

You start thinking about what I want to do with my life and how can I make a difference and something that I care about.

And this hand, right this hand in your lower back pushing you to do something that is risky. And it was risky... it was so risky and the first two years all I did is cry." 

The shelter started in her own home back in 1999 and well, wasn't well received.

"There was no positive vibe, my family were like 'what are you doing?'. Everyone thought I was crazy, and they really legitimately did.  There was very little support they were like 'You wanna do what? You wanna give up a good job this? So, there was a bit of pushback from people that I knew, trusted and cared about and me being just stubborn enough to go 'Yeah, I'm going to do it anyway."

Hessel says the operation continues on an acreage just outside of High River and if you're interested in volunteering or adopting, you can always contact her via email or phone at (403) 601-2520.

Heaven Can Wait animal shelter