It was with much sadness that we received the news of the death on the afternoon of June 19th of Regan Russell, who for many years was a volunteer at The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada. Her death occurred while she was taking part in an animal rights demonstration outside of Fearmans Pork in Burlington, Ontario. Regan was run over and killed by a semi-truck that was transporting live animals to the slaughterhouse. Police have yet to release details surrounding the tragic incident.

Regan was a true friend to all animals. She worked on their behalf both locally and nationally, dedicating her life to their cause, speaking out whenever and wherever she encountered mistreatment or lack of respect.

Many of our longtime volunteers will remember Regan, who contributed in a variety of ways to the DSC during its early years of operation. A former Member of the DSC Board, she was also an enthusiastic donkey and mule groomer – especially of Little Claude, who adored her. On many Donkey Days her instructive donkey talks drew large crowds while on Volunteer Days she was always around to contribute, paint brush in hand.  We lost track of the countless afternoons when she would make the drive from Hamilton and offer to help in any way that was needed.

These days, our world is going through a period of darkness and while COVID-19 has sparked catastrophic destruction, its origins have underlined the tightly-braided connection between humans and the other animals on this planet. More than most of us, Regan realized this fact and her life’s work, shaped as it was by a deep commitment and profound empathy for all creatures, is an inspiration for us all.

Regan Russell made the world a better place and those of us who knew her are so grateful that she passed our way.  May she rest in peace.


  1. I am shocked and saddened to learn of Regan’s tragic and untimely death. I met her, many years ago, at my very first Volunteer Day. I was instantly struck by her astonishing beauty — here was this woman, who could easily be gracing the pages of Vogue, mending fences, painting barn boards, and cleaning manure from the paddocks. After a few minutes’ conversation, it became very obvious that she was as beautiful inside as out. Her passing is a great loss to humanity and to the animals on whose behalf she worked so tirelessly. I picture her at the foot of the Rainbow Bridge, welcoming new arrivals — comforting those who have left pain and hardship behind and reassuring others that they will some day be reunited with the people to whom they meant so much.

  2. I am so sorry to read of this tragedy. What a terrible loss for all. Please accept my sincere sympathy. The previous comments are so beautiful.

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