A tribute from Lisa Warren, October 2016.
I first crossed paths with Lisa Wright (aka LW1) and her husband Mark in Dec 2010 over a livewire little kelpie pup named Pixie. At the time, Lisa was co-ordinating the working breed rescue and rehome for an animal welfare group in Brisbane.
Pixie was my first foster dog through a rescue group and she was an initiation by fire. Pixie contracted parvovirus from the pound and the weeks that followed Pixie’s treatment and recovery cemented Lisa as a life long friend. Her passion and knowledge of all things rescue impressed and inspired me and opened up my eyes to the amazing (and often heartbreaking) world of dog rescue.
Some mere weeks later, Lisa and Mark were involved in a horrific car crash in Brisbane. We had only just been talking on the phone when Lisa said she needed to go as they were off to catch a movie. I wished her well and said we’d catch up soon. They never made it to the movies. Both were very lucky to be alive.
During the months that followed, Lisa had a lot of recuperation time to ponder about life, the universe and all things rescue. She had a dream burning inside her to develop an animal welfare organisation that was totally unlike any other group operating in Australia. Her vision for this venture was truly awe inspiring. It seemed unattainable. But as Norman Vincent Peale famously said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” There was no stopping Lisa bringing her dream to life.
With dogged (pun totally intended) determination and sheer bloody mindedness, Lisa and Mark set about exploring all avenues to set up their co-operative to enable their dream to life. A fledgling board of directors was assembled. I feel very honoured to have been invited to be a part of this group, along with Deborah Knappick. In honour of a very special aged border collie, “Maggie’s Rescue” was thus christened and it hit the ground running.
It was around this time that Lisa and Mark’s stint of living in Brisbane drew to a close. Late August 2011, Lisa packed up her little Peugeot and made one final trip out of Brisbane home to St Peters in Sydney. Completed, of course, with several dogs she picked up from rural pounds en route.
A growing community in Sydney's Inner West
Once in the inner west of Sydney, Maggie’s Rescue grew wings and gained momentum at a dizzying rate. With a chapter still operating in Brisbane, the NSW branch of Maggie’s Rescue grew and grew, adding the new dimension of cat rescue to its portfolio. We in QLD looked on at what Maggie’s was evolving in to and could only shake our heads in awe and admiration at the human dynamo that is Lisa Wright. Her dream was well and truly coming into fruition and it was bigger and better than any of us had hoped.
All the while, Lisa remained true to this original dream of creating an animal welfare organisation that was more than solely rescue and rehome. It was 100% no kill. But it went so much further. It educated. Lisa always insisted that education was the cornerstone to Getting to Zero. It insisted animals and humans were treated with dignity. It created a better world. Maggie’s Rescue was an advocate for progressive practices from successful models in the US of TNR (trap, neuter, return for cats). Maggie’s Rescue was always so much more than just the sum of us.
Quality begets quality and it is no surprise that Maggie’s came to the attention of some fantastic people who helped grow the organisation bigger and better and continue to shape the original dream that was Maggie’s Rescue. Lisa was eventually able to move the office out of her front room in St Peters and in to a fantastic office space at Addison Rd in Marrickville.
A global legacy
Maggie’s Rescue is highly respected both in Australia and abroad in the field of animal welfare. It is held as an exemplar of best practice, lauded for its excellent management and operating capacity and procedures. It is an icon of Sydney inner west and has created a loyal and devoted following.
The Business of Saving Lives conference that Lisa organised put Maggie’s Rescue on the world stage.
The one constant intrinsic driving force behind all this has – always – been Lisa and Mark Wright.
Mark’s clarity and vision for operational procedures is amazing. He is a wonderful negotiator and communicator and easily conveys his thoughts in a manner that others can understand and act upon. Good leaders lead by example. He is a true team player and a formidable team leader. And I have it on very good authority that at the Marrickville Markets, Mark’s fundraising prowess is second to none.
A significant chapter of Maggie’s Rescue has closed with the departure of both Lisa and Mark. I totally understand and respect that this dynamic duo have come to this stage in their lives to set Maggie’s Rescue free to fly solo from them. This was not a decision taken lightly but I know they honestly feel this is for the best. There are so many resourceful innovative and rescue savvy people ready to take Maggie’s to the next stage of evolution.
To those that continue to build and shape Maggie’s Rescue, I truly hope you can continue to keep the flame flickering true to the integrity of the woman who crafted it painstakingly and with great love for the first five years of its life.
Lisa and Mark –your dream, your love, your brainchild of Maggie’s Rescue has not only reached the stars, it has shot past the moon and become a truly universal, unique animal welfare organisation.
As Lisa was always reminding us, “Maggie’s Rescue really is so much more than just the sum of us.”