Home Posts tagged Jordana Starr
Class of 2024

President, Western Mass Rabbit Rescue: Age 39

Four years ago, Jordana Starr found a rabbit. Then she decided to find some more.

“It started in 2020 when a friend of mine, a rabbit owner like me, saw a posting about a loose rabbit. So we decided to try to capture this domestic rabbit who couldn’t survive outdoors,” she recalled. “It was a success — we captured the rabbit, got him neutered, and found him a home.”

Soon after, they launched a Northampton-based nonprofit dedicated to doing that work on a larger scale, then procured space for a shelter after a large rescue of 45 rabbits. While Starr’s original partner eventually left the organization, she still leans on a group of committed volunteers who help with day-to-day operations, fostering rabbits, transportation, and more.

“There’s a nationwide crisis of people trying to surrender pets,” she said. “So we have to triage; we can’t take every pet, or we’d be handling thousands of pets. We can handle maybe 50 in the whole rescue at a time — maybe a dozen requests every week.”

For instance, “if someone is bored with their rabbit, but they’re safe, warm, and well-fed, we’ll probably turn those away. If a rabbit has been abandoned and neglected, or is very sick, we’re more likely to act in those scenarios. We get them spayed, neutered, and take care of all their medical needs — and some have high medical needs.”

The team will try to bond rabbits if someone wants more than one, and they make sure families spend time with the animals they’ll be adopting.

“When you first see them make that connection and bond — you see them falling in love — you know you’re completing a family in an important way. We know the work we’re doing is really paying off from the phone calls and letters from people thanking us. We’re not only making a difference for the rabbits, we’re making a difference for humans.”

It’s quite different work from Beerology, the home-brew shop Starr and her husband, Mike Schilling, have co-owned in Northampton since 2016. Meanwhile, in her spare time, Starr loves international travel, ballroom dancing, and performing in theater. In fact, she landed her first professional role last summer with Faultline Ensemble, playing a rookie EMT in a play called Counting Pebbles; the group is hoping to win a grant to tour the show in six cities.

“It’s about trauma and resiliency,” Starr said — both of which she’s had to navigate plenty for some furry friends looking for a better life.

—Joseph Bednar