Susan’s dedication to her animals is apparent. She doesn’t want to take volunteers and funds away from sanctuaries that need help when she can manage. Her life revolves around the animals in her care because there is no one available to step in if she ever wanted to take a vacation. Reflecting on the stress that comes with this responsibility she says, “It’s like Groundhog Day. Every day it’s the same thing. All the worry is on me, and I’m a worrywart anyway. I have to force myself to not think of all the worst-case scenarios that can happen. And when I don’t speak to a human for a month, it gets to be a little much.”
Susan became a vegetarian when Valentine came into her life, then she gave up all animals products in 2002. While she lived in Toronto, she was often taking part in street-level activism. Today, she primarily supports animal rights organizations via donations, but she was instrumental in helping shut down the Tarzan Zerbini Circus brought to Toronto, Barrie, Newmarket, and Orillia by the Shriners.
Susan is never aggressive when it comes to talking to others about veganism, and her supportive demeanour has resulted in many people following in her footsteps. “In 20 years, I estimate 100 people have said to me that they don’t eat meat anymore because of me, because of what I told them.”
Ironically, being vegan was more challenging than being a woman in the male-dominated field in which she worked. Non-vegans she worked with frequently made fun of her and asked questions only pretending to be interested. “As soon as I would start to answer their questions, they would say, ‘Oh, for God’s sake, get off your soapbox.’ It was so frustrating. Or I would get invited to a pig roast. That was difficult because you don’t want to argue with people every single day about stuff like that.”