The mythologist Joseph Campbell emphasized that the most important task in our lives is finding and following our bliss, or passion. Sue Bergier has always known hers – animals.
Sue grew up in Florida, preferring to spend time outdoors, in nature, discovering interesting animal life. She moved to the Patagonia area in 1970 with her husband, Bill Bergier, to join his family, long-time residents of the area.
For the last 13 years, her passion has been dogs. She rescues and fosters homeless dogs and finds homes for them, choosing dogs with health issues – dogs no one wants. She attends to their health and vaccinates them.
She has a “no kill” policy and shelter. Those that she cannot place, she keeps. The dog is considered placed after a trial period of three months. The rate of return of a placed dog is close to zero.
What Sue enjoys most is placing a dog in a home and seeing that it is healthy and happy with the adopter. What is most difficult is losing a dog after spending time and energy to help it become healthy. “You have to put your heart in it, trying to help discarded animals,” she said. “Some dogs die. We want them all to live. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of spaying, neutering, and vaccinating them.”
Sue began rescuing and fostering dogs in 2010, working with “Cold Wet Noses” of Tucson until 2015.
In 2017 she became registered as a 501(C)3 nonprofit called Arizona Desert Rotti & Pals Rescue. She finds it easier to manage her own dogs, and to do her own rescuing. She pulls dogs from Santa Cruz County, Pima County and Douglas shelters. Recently she rescued a female dog in Mexico, pregnant with six pups. She is now at capacity. Her husband, Bill, helps her, and she also has five volunteers she can call upon.
The first part of the adoption process is a “meet and greet” of dog and its potential owner(s). The potential adopter meets a dog after filling out an application. Sue does a home visit before proceeding with the adoption.
Then comes a trial period, which usually lasts three months. If it is not working out, the adopter receives a refund of the adoption fee.
Sue would like to get more involved in education about caring for dogs, how to make them part of the family, so people can learn that “rescue dogs are the best dogs to have. They are thankful and loving.”
An example of this education came from Sue’s rescue of a puppy she named Porkchop. When she realized he was blind, she tried to find someone who had experience with blind dogs. She received a reply from Edward Goodman, who already had a blind dog.
He not only adopted her puppy, but wrote a children’s book about the two dogs, “Stanley and Porkchop,” which was published in 2015. It is a story about the power of acceptance, tolerance, and friendship. One hundred percent of the sales go to Tootsie’s Vision, a New Mexico-based rescue for visually impaired dogs.