The Dallas animal rescue world mourns for Paige Anderson, an animal advocate who passed away on September 18, after a year-long battle with cancer. She was 50 years old.
Raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Anderson was president of Animal Rescue of Texas, a group that finds homes for dogs from shelters around Dallas and strays from the street. She was also a photo stylist and founder of Beast, a talent agency for animals.
She possessed a level of dedication and a boots-on-the-ground spirit that made her a one-of-a-kind in the rescue world.
"She was one of the good ones, an absolute rock star in the animal rescue world," says Stacy Smith, founder of Humane Tomorrow, a rescue organization based in Flower Mound. "Her death is a huge loss for our community."
In addition to her work rescuing stray and unwanted pets, Anderson was a certified animal cruelty investigator who, with fellow rescuer Monica Ailey, co-founded Animal Investigation & Response, a group that assists law enforcement and communities with animal abuse-related issues such as puppy mills, animal hoarding, blood sports, and assists in disaster relief. They've helped on major seizures around Dallas-Fort Worth, such as the suspected puppy mill breeder in Kaufman County in 2011.
"Her passion was fighting cruelty, shutting down the bad actors in animal world, whether it be breeders or bad rescues," Smith says.
Many in the rescue world have stories of her compassion and can-do responsiveness. "She walked the walk," says Maeleska Fletes, president of nonprofit organization Dallas Companion Animal Project. "You never wondered how Paige felt; she was always on the right side."
Anderson had a saucy streak, with a mischievous wit and a fondness for cursing.
"Like a sailor," says friend Nancy Harsh. "At the last fundraiser for Animal Rescue of Texas, she went on stage to greet everyone and started with 'Hey, motherfuckers.' Then 'Oops! I forgot there were kids here. Oh well ....'"
She also had an impish sense of fun. "She would call me in the afternoon and say, 'Is the bar open?'" Harsh says. "I always kept Patron on hand. So I would say, 'Sure, come on over,' and she'd say, 'Okay, I'm in your driveway.'"
Her friends called her "an inspiration, a firecracker, a tell-it-like-it-is, compassionate, and driven person" with an infectious smile, "tiny in stature, but gargantuan in spirit and impact," who "dedicated her life to the welfare of animals and to her friends."
Her ability to forge alliances with all kinds of groups was a unique trait in the oft-contentious animal world.
"She knew we had to work with people we sometimes disagreed with, and that's rare," Smith says. "She knew it was about educating people and making the best of the world we have."
Anderson is survived by her husband, Chris McGilivray. A memorial be held on September 24 at 7 pm at 1007 Fort Worth Ave.