Nina Love wants to change the animal welfare community in Philadelphia.
The 30-year-old woman – who leads her own rescue called The black thorn – said she had not met any black people working in the industry.
“It’s terrible,” Love told Metro, describing the field’s lack of diversity. “And I feel like a lot of people are afraid to talk about it.”
Love said she reached out to a woman involved in the community on social media for help and was told to “go back to Africa”. She thinks some rescue leaders think black people don’t know how to take care of animals.
“A lot of rescues here, they don’t go to certain areas,” she said. “So me being, I guess, a black woman, I also go to other areas like North Philly, Southwest, Kensington. Most of these areas are where stray animals are found.
Love, who lives in Warminster, will go much further, whether that means finding a home for a cat or a dog. She transported animals to New York and Maryland.
She credits a pet rabbit who comforted her while her parents divorced as the inspiration for her love of animals. Love, who grew up in Hunting Park and northeast Philadelphia, first rescued a litter of stray kittens when she was 14.
The Black Thornberry really got going after Love trapped a dog caught in a snowstorm last year.
Residents reach out to her on social media, as well as email and phone, when they spot a stray animal in need of help. For cats, she does trap-neutral-return, or TNR, and she rescues stray dogs in wooded areas or fields.
Her 9-year-old daughter, Arianna, is also helping — so much so that she gets upset when she can’t join her mother during a rescue, Love said.
Love also delivers pet food on a monthly basis to seniors and others who are financially challenged and works with veterinarians to cover the costs of necessary animal procedures.
“I’m just trying to find a way to bridge that gap and use my organization to encourage other people who look like me to come out and help the community,” she said.
The Black Thornberry recently gained non-profit status and has attracted volunteers. Her name comes from a Nickelodeon cartoon from the late 90s and early 2000s in which a girl, Eliza, develops the ability to communicate with animals.
“And when I was a kid, she was my heroine,” Love said.
black thornberry fundraising effort underway raises money for Love to buy a van for the operation. The dog trap won’t fit in her personal vehicle, so she rents a U-Haul. The tight space also means she usually has to walk back and forth to pick up and drop off supplies.
So far, Love has raised nearly $20,000, including a $10,000 grant from Tito’s Vodka. She thinks she can get a pickup truck for about $35,000.
For more information on The Black Thornberry, visit theblackthornberry.net. Love prefers that people requesting help with an animal contact her via the website or by email at [email protected]