Woman dedicates life to saving animals

BY BRIAN ALBERT | JULY 12, 2011 7:20 AM

Brian Albert/The Daily Iowan
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Rinthea Satterlee begins her mornings at 4:30.

For more than two hours, she feeds, medicates, and plays with her animals. Work runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m, and then she spends another two hours feeding and doing therapy and range of motion exercises. The last few hours of her day are spent using Facebook to raise money and get the word out about pets in need.

But even as the day winds down, you won’t see the Williamsburg, Iowa, native curled up in front of the tube.

“I don’t have a television because I’ve committed my life to the animals,” she said.

The University of Iowa alumna formed the Barkley Foundation in 2010, a rural space on the edge of Williamsburg with two acres of fenced-in play area. When it was officially licensed on Jan. 1, she stepped down from her position as the director of Safe Haven animal shelter — a Williamsburg-based organization that has saved more than 1,500 animals in five years.

The Barkley Foundation, named after Satterlee’s beloved St. Bernard who passed away Valentine’s Day 2010, differs from an animal shelter in that it focuses on proactive efforts and fundraising for special animal cases.

“When animals come into shelters with three legs, one eye, or a heart condition, they usually are the first to be put down,” Satterlee said. “But they’re just as important to us. We want to give them attention because they’re the hardest to adopt out.”

Amy Van Scoyoc, the vice president and treasurer of the foundation, spoke about how hard it is to manage so many animals as a small, gray pit bull named Rhino stood near her feet.

“It’s tough. You’ve got dozens of animals, and they all need to eat and drink every day,” Van Scoyoc said as a dog with no eyes drank from a nearby bucket. “But we love to do it because not many others will.”

The foundation currently houses 44 dogs and seven cats.

Satterlee, who earned a master’s degree in social work from the UI, organizes fundraisers and public events every month to fund her foundation.

With the help of Cindy Fetters, the foundation’s marketer and media person, Satterlee holds at least one fundraising event each month, usually in Iowa City. The events range from Petco adoption meetings to funnel-cake booths to psychic readings.

“Rinthea loves to dream up these fun things to do, and then I get to work out the details,” Fetters said. “She does it because she’s really passionate.”

Satterlee said the Barkley Foundation needs the funds after it saved more than 20 parvo-stricken puppies from a North Carolina shelter, ringing up a $26,000 veterinary bill.

In dire situations, the founder said she turns to social networking, which she described as an invaluable tool.

“There have been times when a dog gets hit by a car and we have to raise $800 in two hours or it’s going to die,” Satterlee said. “I can go to Facebook and get the word out and get the funding from some very generous donators within the night.”

But Satterlee said it isn’t all about the money. Animals such as Barkley changed her life and made her think about the world differently.

“Animals helped me through some difficult and lonely times of my life,” Satterlee said. “There are dogs and cats out there that might be a little different and in need of some special help. That’s where we come in. That’s what the Barkley Foundation is about.”

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