Diane Parkhurst - friends of animalsDiane Parkhurst has loved animals her entire life and has welcomed them into her family for as long as she can remember. “I was only 2 or 3 years old when we got our first dog,” she says. “In all the pictures my parents took, there I am, beaming, right next to my dog,Chinook. I still carry a picture of Chinook in my purse.”
By: Jill Pertler, Living North
Diane Parkhurst has loved animals her entire life and has welcomed them into her family for as long as she can remember. “I was only 2 or 3 years old when we got our first dog,” she says. “In all the pictures my parents took, there I am, beaming, right next to my dog,Chinook. I still carry a picture of Chinook in my purse.”
Parkhurst’s love of animals continued on through childhood. “When I was a teenager, my dog was my best friend,” the Cloquet woman says.
For Parkhurst, love became passion on April 24, 1983, when she participated in World Day for Lab Animals. “I became aware of some of the inhumane practices that were used on animals,” she says. Parkhurst was inspired by the energy of so many animal advocates coming together that day. And when the event was over. “I had all this energy and all this fire and didn’t know what to do with it afterwards,” she says.
Parkhurst and fellow animal advocate Margaret Mell started working together
to help stray animals. “Back in the early days we didn’t have a shelter or much in the way of resources. We didn’t even have a name for what we were doing. It was just Margaret and me, and we got by with help from friends. When we got a call about an animal in need, we picked it up ourselves. We took it to the vet and then to our own homes. We visited schools to educate kids.”
Four years later, the grassroots group decided to organize, put together a
board of directors and name the Cloquet-based organization Friends of Animals.
Kay Goodman was customer in the early years. “Diane helped us adopt our
first animal,” she says. “The thing that impressed me the most about both Diane and Margaret was that they came out to visit us before the animals ever came home with us. Then they came back to check on the animals after we’d had them awhile. I’d never been through such a thorough and caring pet adoption.”
The crew of two has grown to 19 employees and another 18 volunteers. FOA
has a large shelter that harbors more than 1,150 dogs, cats and other assorted critters each year.
Through her work, Parkhurst noted a recurring need. “Over the years, I had
a lot of experience dealing with people who had lost their pet, and I knew a need was there,” she says. “I always had an interest in developing a pet loss support group.”
Three years ago, the idea became reality. Parkhurst facilitates a support group that meets from 6:30 to 8 p.m. the second Thursday of every month. The group, which is free, is for any adult who has lost a pet.
The loss and grief can come through a change in lifestyle, because of a move or a divorce or from any situation that causes a pet to leave someone’s life.
Parkhurst’s preparation for the group comes from decades of life experience. “I’ve done lots of reading and studying, but have no formal training. It’s a life and consuming passion,” she says.
Goodman has leaned on Parkhurst in times of grief. “She has been an absolute source of support for me at times,” says Goodman. “When I lost a pet, we’d cry together.”
It’s normal to feel sad and angry after losing a pet. Parkhurst says the danger lies in getting stuck in one stage without the ability to move on. “People get stuck because they don’t have someone who understands the depths of their grief; they don’t have support,” she says. “People shouldn’t be afraid to do what they need to do to overcome their grief. They shouldn’t fall prey to others who say, ‘Get over it. It was just a dog, or just a cat.’”
Through the years, Goodman and Parkhurst have become friends. “Diane has
touched many lives in a positive way – both those with four legs and those with two,” Goodman says.
Although Parkhurst has been working with the FOA for 26 years, she doesn’t
feel her enthusiasm or motivation waning. “I don’t think I’ll ever be done,” she says. “There is a great need for kindness and compassion in this world – not just with animals but everywhere.”
Pet Loss Resources Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement, http://aplb.org, is a nonprofit association of volunteers experienced and knowledgeable in pet loss. Free online chat rooms and quarterly newsletter.
Social Work Services,University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center – (612) 624-9372
Cloquet Friends of Animals Humane Society
1418 Highway 33 S
Cloquet, Minnesota 55720
Free support group meets from 6:30 p.m.-8p.m. the second Thursday of every
month. Contact Diane, 879-7395.
Duluth Animal Allies Humane Society
4006 Airport Road, Duluth
(218) 722-5341 http://animalallies.net
Duluth Animal Shelter
2627 Courtland Street, Duluth
Northern Lights Animal Rescuers, Inc.
P. O. Box 1096
Twig, MN 55791
Our organization does not have a facility, but utilizes foster homes.
Lake County Humane Society
P.O. Box 27
Two Harbors, Minnesota 55616
Animal Rescue Federation Care & Adoption Center
2225 Hill Ave. Superior, WI 54880
Sundays are open by appointment