It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Joyce Chamberlain Dekker, the founder and inspirational leader of the Frontier Animal Society for almost thirty years. Joyce passed away on February 28th at the CHUS hospital in Sherbrooke. She was 82.
In April of last year, Joyce was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Guardians’ Best Rescue Foundation, a very fitting recognition for someone who devoted so much of her life to animal welfare. ‘Devoted’ is also a fitting word for the kind of dedication that Joyce brought to her work on behalf of countless abandoned and neglected cats and dogs.
Joyce grew up and was educated in the Stanstead area and then moved to Florida where she lived and worked for many years. She would eventually return to her roots crossing the border with about 20 dogs and the same number of cats safely in tow. With the help and support of friends, family and local animal lovers she started the Société animale frontalière/Frontier Animal Society (SAFAS).
In 2015, after 29 years of truly selfless devotion to the animals in her care, Joyce made the difficult decision to take a step back from her day to day shelter duties and begin her well-earned retirement. In her tenure as shelter director, Joyce was a caregiver, she was a mentor, she was an advocate and she was unrelenting in her commitment to making this world a kinder and gentler place for cats and dogs.
The impact that Joyce had on animal welfare was felt not just locally but throughout the Eastern Townships. For twenty-two years she ran a low-cost sterilisation clinic for cats. The need for this service was significant and well over 8,000 cats and kittens were sterilized and vaccinated.
Additionally, she oversaw the adoption of hundreds of dogs and cats and had a direct hand in the rescue of countless abused, neglected or abandoned animals. And it was not just dogs and cats—Joyce had a heart for every animal in need. In many instances Joyce herself went without in order to provide for the animals.
It is with sadness that we announce her passing, but it is also with thanks for a life spent fighting the good fight in the trenches of the war against animal cruelty and neglect.
With a team of committed volunteers in place and with Joyce’s vision as our guide, we will continue to provide shelter and care to neglected, abandoned or stray cats and dogs. We will also advocate for better animal welfare laws and carry on her mission to promote responsible pet ownership through education and awareness raising.