In her nearly 15 years of involvement with Whistler Animals Galore (WAG), Lindsay Suckling has contributed to a long list of achievements at the local animal shelter—perennially voted favourite non-profit in Pique’s annual Best of Whistler reader poll.
But it’s the animals and their stories that will stick with her in the long run.
“I think starting with WAG helped me find my absolute passion and purpose: animal rescue. So I’m just so grateful for that,” Suckling said. “Something I’ll take with me is just the animals’ stories. Over the years, I’ve met so many incredible animals that have been through so much and still somehow learn to trust, heal, and move from one family to another. There are so many very special animals that will stay with me forever.”
Suckling started at WAG in 2009 as a volunteer. She was hired as an employee in 2011, and became executive director in 2016. Now, she’s moving in to a new role with the charity: manager of animal welfare and behaviour.
According to longtime WAG volunteer Denise Wood, Suckling’s substantial list of achievements includes introducing animal wellness clinics; a low-cost spay and neuter program; and expanding service to animals with behavioural issues, allowing WAG to take in animals often declined at other shelters.
“She’s advanced our knowledge and impact on animal behaviour cases because of her certification in training and counselling. We’ve been able to just positively impact so many dogs with behavioural challenges and get them into great homes,” Wood said. “Being able to rehabilitate these animals and get them into
a place where they can move forward with a family is just incredible, and her knowledge and experience in that is just instrumental in finding these animals homes.”
Whistler local Michelle Jendral takes the reins as executive director. She brings a solid educational background to the position, having previously worked as a researcher and professor at the University of Dalhousie and the University of Alberta, specializing in livestock welfare.
Brought to B.C. by consulting work and a passion for the mountain lifestyle, Jendral has called the resort home since 2018. In her new role at WAG, she said she plans to expand existing programs and educational outreach.
“I want to see that the success that the team here has built continues, and to be able to not only support that, but also continue with the progress that they have made,” she said, adding that it’s important to ensure WAG has the resources available to continue developing its programs.
“I have a passion for education, because I feel that educating and awareness is how things are going to change, especially as we tap into our younger generations,” she said. “But also building important relationships with the community, and continuing the relationships that the team here has built.”