It’s not every day the Annex Cat Rescue gets a gift from a donor like Arty Basinski. But Arty is not your every-day type of guy. And he’s certainly not your every-day real estate agent.
Arty, who’s been in the real estate game for five years, gives 10 percent of all his earnings to animal charities (half of which are chosen by his clients), and his most recent donation was a very generous $500 gift to ACR.
“I wanted to do something local and I’ve always been a cat person,” said Arty, “so this was a perfect fit.”
“I feel very privileged to be in the position that I am and I want to give back to those who are less privileged. And especially with animals, whether trapped in cages or performing in a circus or out on the street as strays, they don’t get a voice to change their situation and they need help from people…so I’ve always had a special place in my heart for them.”
While Arty’s name may not be familiar, if you live in the GTA there’s a good chance you’ve seen him on the streets: he’s known as “The Real Estate by Bike Guy,” riding his emblazoned pedal-powered machine to locations all over the city. And while the advertising is great, it also gives him unique information he can pass on to his clients.
“You get to see neighbourhoods with a different perspective,” said Arty. “You get to go through parks and down paths that you wouldn’t while driving. While you’re cycling it’s a little more laid back and you can really absorb the area.”
Arty’s connection to cats comes in several forms. Not only is he the caretaker of Naboo, whom he adopted through the Toronto Humane Society two years ago, Arty also provides unique housewarming gifts to those he works with. He takes a Maneki-Neko (commonly known on this side of the world as a Happy Cat or Lucky Cat) and paints a version modelled after his clients. It’s an extension of an artistic side that also includes music (he’s an avid drummer) and acting (he performs in clown and improv troupes).
Needless to say, ACR was beyond thrilled with Basinski’s gift, which allows ACR’s volunteers to assist even more cats in need.
“We rely almost entirely on donations to cover the costs of our rescue work,” said Jacqueline Chan, Chair of ACR’s Board of Directors, “particularly the costs of providing veterinary care to the feral cats in our colonies and the formerly-homeless cats in our foster program. The vet bills are substantial, but always worthwhile. And there are always more cats that we would like to help, and our donors allow us to do that.
“We love anyone who can find it in their heart to give to ACR, but when people do something unique, cool and creative like Arty we give them a huge thank you.”
And Chan will appreciate this even more: Arty says that if any business comes his way via this article, he’ll donate a portion of it back to ACR in order to help more cats: “That’s something I would be more than happy to do!”
Find out more about Arty on his website at realestatebybike.com.
— By Edward Fraser