Caring for Animals

MacCallum Family Fund for Animal Welfare Helps Animals Live Longer

December 14, 2022

Shirley MacCallum Helps Animals in Need

“I always wanted to do something for animals. This fund will continue to help them long after I’m gone.”

During their 35-year marriage, Shirley and Toby MacCallum shared many things, an antique business, three children and a strong sense of connection and responsibility to animals in their community. A deep respect for animals was instilled in Shirley at a young age. Growing up on a farm in
Massachusetts, Shirley had plenty of opportunities to befriend animals of all kinds.

“We had rabbits, chickens, cows, horses and cats, you name it,” said Shirley. “I wanted to bring all of the animals
inside. Dad was not happy about that.”

Over the years, Shirley and Toby welcomed many canine companions into their family and made regular donations to local animal welfare organizations in their community. But when they were forced to put down their longtime companion, Smokey, a mixed-breed shelter dog and member of the family for more than 18 years, Shirley was so heartbroken that she decided she would never adopt another dog.Instead, she doubled the couple’s efforts to support local animal welfare organizations that needed support.

“I gave to everything,” said Shirley, “any animal organization that needed help. I didn’t care if it was a skunk who needed help. I sent

money to help.”

Then in 2003, Toby was diagnosed with cancer and given a year to live. He had one request of Shirley: “I want a dog,” he said.

Days later, the couple ran into a colleague who was returning from his veterinarian’s office with a litter of yellow labs. Toby scooped a wiggling puppy into his arms. He looked at Shirley, and they both knew that Esmerelda “Little Molly” had found a home. To the surprise of doctors, Toby lived for more than eight years, fighting for his life with Molly by his side.

“She never left him,” said Shirley. “They were always cuddled up together. Molly would lay in the bed with him with her head on his leg. She slept with us.”

They soon discovered that Molly was fighting a battle of her own. Molly was diagnosed with lymphoma. “Whatever happens,” Toby said to Shirley, “When I’m gone, take care of Molly.”

Toby passed away in 2012. Soon after, Molly became extremely ill. After seven months of dialysis, with Shirley a constant by her side, Molly too passed away.

“I spent so much time at the veterinarian’s office, meeting sick animals and their caregivers,” said Shirley. “I realized there is a real need in our community to reach out to sick animals whose caregivers don’t have the means to provide them with life-sustaining medical care.

“They can’t talk,” she said. “They need our help.”

Established in 2013, the NCCF MacCallum Family Fund for Animal Welfare accepts donations from the community to provide in perpetuity resources for sick and suffering animals who require extensive and often expensive medical treatments to prolong their lives.

“I always wanted to do something for animals,” said Shirley. “This fund will continue to help them long after I’m gone.”

NCCF MacCallum Family Fund for Animal Welfare

Since its inception, the NCCF MacCallum Family Fund for Animal Welfare has comforted and provided medical care for 16 dogs and cats in Northwest Connecticut who otherwise would have continued to suffer or been put down, including Aurora, a sweet sensitive 6-year old German Shepard who needed emergency surgery to save her life; and Floyd, a 5-month old kitten with a broken leg found faring for himself in a local barn.