Brother Wolf to sell sanctuary property to bridge $1M funding gap

Photo courtesy of Brother Wolf Animal Rescue

Press release from Brother Wolf Animal Rescue:

(Asheville, NC – April 22, 2019) Leah Craig Fieser, Brother Wolf’s new Executive Director who joined the organization in February when founder Denise Bitz resigned, has spent the past couple of months reviewing financial information and working closely with staff and board members to best understand the state of the organization. When Fieser began her role, she vowed to lead the organization with accountability and transparency.

“Brother Wolf was built on the basis that all animal lovers are welcome, and that we are all an integral part of the lifesaving work we’re accomplishing together. I am committed to rebuilding that partnership and trust,” said Fieser. “The community built this organization, and our community needs to know that over the past few years Brother Wolf has slipped into financial trouble. The organization took on too much too quickly, without sufficient foresight. Well intentioned programming directed at farmed animal advocacy and planning a large sanctuary location ultimately hurt the financial stability of the organization and caused us to lose many supporters. Polarizing vegan messaging also made many supporters feel as though they were no longer welcomed and valued.”

Due to this instability, the organization faces a million dollar funding gap this year. “We will be selling the sanctuary land in Leicester in order to significantly reduce our funding gap. This has been a very difficult decision to make. But in order to continue our impactful programing and increase stability, selling the land in Leicester is necessary during this critical time,” said Fieser.

Although funds raised for the sanctuary were spent on project expenses such as permitting, design, farmed animal care, and building fabrication, those who donated towards the project were understandably upset when no tangible progress was made. Brother Wolf does have the components of the sanctuary’s clinic building in storage, and Fieser is looking into creative ways to use it to best serve dogs and cats with medical and behavioral challenges.

“We have incredibly impactful programs, and a strong core of dedicated and talented staff and volunteers who operate our programs. Brother Wolf makes a huge impact on the lives of thousands of animals each year, and this lifesaving work must continue for them. Today more than ever before, we must strengthen our collaborative efforts for the animals of western North Carolina. I’m asking our community to rebuild with us because together we can and must do this for the animals who rely on all of us,” said Fieser.

Brother Wolf publicly stated in February that their Adoption Center on Glendale Avenue in Asheville had been taken off the market. “The Adoption Center is the hub of our work,” said Fieser. “All of the decisions the organization makes moving forward will be focused on our mission of building and sustaining No-Kill communities for companion animals.” The organization will no longer be involved in vegan advocacy work and is working to find homes for the farmed animals who currently live on the land in Leicester.

An alarming 66,000 adoptable animals were killed in North Carolina shelters in 2017. North Carolina has the third lowest live release rate in the country, with only 66% of animals entering the shelter system making it out alive. “Buncombe County is a No-Kill community thanks to Brother Wolf and the other incredibly hard working animal rescue organizations in our area. But there is still a lot of work to be done for the animals of western North Carolina,” said Fieser.

In order to address concerns and questions, Brother Wolf will be hosting two public community forums. The forums will take place on Monday, April 29th at 5:30pm at Highland Brewing located at 12 Old Charlotte Highway in Asheville, and on Wednesday, May 1st at 5:30pm at Urban Orchard’s downtown location at 24 Buxton Avenue in Asheville.

“I understand the feelings and concerns our community has. As a community member and past Brother Wolf staff member, I had many of the same concerns. I came back to change things,” Fieser said. “I’m asking for our community’s financial support as we focus on stability and strengthening our No-Kill mission. Brother Wolf only works when we are all in this together for the animals.” Through their various resources and programs, Brother Wolf anticipates positively impacting the lives of 10,000 animals this year.

“This is a turning point for Brother Wolf, and we cannot do this alone,” Fieser says. “It won’t be easy, but this critical work must continue because the animals desperately need us. I know Brother Wolf can and will get back to a place where we are stable and thriving, but the support of our community today is urgently needed. Together, we will save lives.”

About Community Bulletin
Mountain Xpress posts selected news and information of local interest as a public service for our readers. To submit press releases and other community material for possible publication, email

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

15 thoughts on “Brother Wolf to sell sanctuary property to bridge $1M funding gap

  1. Big Al

    Nice to see someone finally acknowledge that the previous Director’s vegan messaging was polarizing. While this issue has been discussed in recent months, it has been addressed in language that seemed deliberately vague and evasive.

  2. Ann Zook

    Brother Wolf has saved so many animals for years now and l believe they will continue this rescue. They have shown many in Buncombe and nearby counties how to run & support NO KILL shelters. They also respond to many animals needs & rescues in emergencies or disasters in other states. We can support them through financial struggles ahead, not caused by the new director. Remember it’s the animals that need them and all of us.

  3. Lisa A.

    The photo in this article is of my foster dog, Abby. Brother Wolf saved her from Iredell shelter 15 minutes before she was to be euthanized with critical injuries from being hit by a car and got her to Reach within hours. I had contacted them that morning trying to find her a rescue. This area needs more than one rescue to address the needs of the community and I hope they can all be successful. I volunteer with multiple rescues because that gives animals like Abby more options. On the day she was supposed to die, BW was able to help her when other rescues couldn’t. On a different day it might be another rescue that can help. I’m looking forward to BW getting back on track and moving forward so they can continue saving lives. And Abby is looking for her forever family. She would love an active home and would be perfect for a jogger or someone interested in agility or kids to play with.

  4. Sam

    The building on Glendale that BW uses as a shelter is a joke. Crammed, loud, poorly insulated, etc. I hope they use some of this recouped money to build a bigger space that is more friendly to the animals there who are terrified.

    Also…why care for cats and dogs but not chickens and pigs? Doesn’t make sense to me at all. If you’re in the business of animal rescue, shouldn’t all animals be included??

      • think critically

        Pigs and chickens are smarter than dogs and cats. There is no logical reason to love one species and eat another, it is just a matter of enculturation.

        “The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men.” Alice Walker

    • Erma Rhodes

      What is happening to the property once owned by Friends for Life

  5. Tem

    Yes, agreed… ALL animals in need of rescue.. should include pigs,chickens and cattle from ppl like Big Al, apparently. Being a good steward to animals doesnt mean just to dogs and cats.. but some folks, they are not able to detactch themselves from eating meat therefore supporting of the meat indrustry. Those levels of animal cruelity being dismissed so easily, by so many… so that they can have their bacon and hamburgars, is (I Believe) the cracks in our humanity. I know because I use to be like them for 40+ years.

    • Zachary

      BWAR was founded as a rescue for companion animals, plain and simple. Humans are animals also, so should they take in human babies?

      • Sam

        Believe it or not, an organization is allowed to grow and expand and change their mission. Denise saw a larger problem and realized it makes no sense to rescue dogs but not pigs. I applaud her attempts to elevate Brother Wolf to be a sanctuary for all animals.

        Your comment about human babies is simply ridiculous – you know very well that animal rescue in our society typically means of the non-human kind. Quit trying to distort the topic.

        • Zachary

          Sam, my point about humans went over your head obviously. Sadly Denise was not qualified to expand this mission. It did well on its first mission and should have kept it to that. The world is littered with dead businesses that expanded into oblivion. If BWAR maintained the course it would have too.

        • Tem

          THANK YOU SAM.. you hit that nail on the head, dead center. “Believe it or not, an organization is allowed to grow and expand and change their mission. Denise saw a larger problem”.. Denise’s vision is a new concept and its going to stir that pot that challenges ppl to be better stewards of themselves and to others. Kachary, we get it… You are resistant to changes, even as it is the level of change, that is the efforts toward saving humanity. When you stopped seeing the full spectrum of cruelity happening simply because you are choosing not to correct the problem in our own life so you dismiss the ideas of others wanting to be better stewards to farmed animals (who by the way are also loving pets and family members for many ppl and houesholds)… all for a weakness you have for eating the animals that you will declare not worth of saving from cruelity, but you will dine on them like there is no tomorrow. What is wrong with this picture!?!?

  6. Virginia Rainey

    Your “no-kill” ideology is unsustainable. It leads to animal hoarding and terrible suffering. I suspect this ideology is linked to anti-abortion sentiment as well. From my perspective, it’s animal suffering that needs relief, not the threat of a shorter span to an already short span of life. What is behind the idea that life must be preserved at all costs? It’s inhumane.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.