At 31 years old Chae Berry is the youngest branch manager ever in Kelowna and the second youngest within the BC SPCA.
Born and raised in Kelowna, Berry has worked in veterinarian clinics around the city for more than 10 years. Then several years ago she gained the position of managing an animal emergency care clinic and that is when she decided to turn her expertise toward helping pets in a different way. In November of 2021, Berry applied to the Kelowna BC SPCA and began her journey advocating for animals to make a difference in the community.
“At vet clinics, often people turn down care because they can’t afford it or they chose not to go through with it, at the BC SPCA we get to help animals all the time. Even when people are experiencing financial hardship, there are ways we can help,” said Berry.
Within a year, Berry had gone from the entry-level position of animal care attendant to the branch manager.
She said she received a lot of support from staff and volunteers, which encouraged her to take the leap and apply to be a branch manager.
“It’s a breath of fresh air at the shelter, a different world from medicine to rescue,” she explained. “It does put my faith to the test sometimes, I have left work left crying many times, but the passion from my co-workers, the volunteers and the community always come through and you get to see the good. It is really a balance of the heart.”
Berry credits two women in particular with helping her grow and gain the ability to take on the position of branch manager, that of Karin Massar the senior officer of community giving and Robyn McMurphy the animal care supervisor at the Kelowna branch.
“The support from everyone at the brach is amazing, we are truly a unified team, but these two women have been a principle part of my growth.”
Berry has only been in the manager position a few months and is still working out the kinks, such as explaining her background and experience that makes her right for the job, as many are curious, considering her age.
“I get people asking, ‘how old are you?’ all the time. I look young, but I have more than 15 years working with animals they are my life and I have extensive experience in animal care thanks to my work with vet clinics,” she said.
Going forward, Berry wants to be as transparent as possible, from the branch’s outreach programs to gathering donations.
“I am hoping to bring more social media campaigns on board as well as work with those experiencing homelessness and transient communities about how the BC SPCA might be able to support them and their pets. I am really looking to bridge the gaps that might exist between our community and the shelter.”
When, Berry isn’t focusing on rescuing, rehabilitating and advocating for animals she can be found at home with her five pets, dogs Leopold, Link and Winnie, cats Bentley and Finnigan and bearded dragon Dexter.
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