In Bollinger County, Missouri there’s no pound and no humane society.
But what there is in excess is stray dogs in desperate need of care.
10 years ago, those dogs had little chance of survival.
But now they have a sanctuary created by a woman who puts their needs well before her own.
“This little baby was so full of ticks. I pulled off probably 50 just last night," said Marilyn Neville.
This is nothing new for her.
“We have 11 different pens outdoors in different sizes with different groups and temperaments," said Marilyn.
Pens that house a revolving door of dogs in need.
Marilyn runs the Bollinger County Stray Project.
They care for stray or relinquished dogs until they can find someone to adopt them.
“I taught dog obedience for over 13 years. And while I was teaching dog obedience people would ask me can you help me find a home for my dog or this stray that came about. And I was actually pretty good at it," said Marilyn.
Marilyn became the woman to call when you found a stray pet.
“I can’t imagine how anybody can do this and dump this and be able to sleep at night. I don’t get it.”
It’s that compassion that moved Marilyn to take on what can only be described as a life-consuming task.
All of this is run out of her own home.
Her backyard is now home to 39 dogs, but she’s cared for up to 72 at one time.
And caring for so many requires personal sacrifice.
“I haven’t been home to see my family or my sister who has MS and in a wheelchair," Marilyn said with tears in her eyes. "I haven’t seen her for three years and that’s the only problem with this. It’s 24/7. You don’t have a life.”
Her life is these animals.
And they’ve taken a liking to her as well following wherever she leads.
They make it work thanks to some donations from local businesses along with grant money.
“So then one day we got a $20,000 check in the mail to use as we wished.”
That money came from the Sidewalk Angels Foundation.
And with it Marilyn is tackling the problem head on.
“But I decided, why build on to the problem and collect more dogs? Why not try to put the fire out?” she said.
So she uses that money to help owners pay to spay their pets and give them a rabies shot.
“There’s no excuse not to call us for help. And we did so well with that first $20,000 grant, they just gave us another one this summer.”
If you'd like to adopt a pet from the Bollinger County Stray Project or learn more on how you can help, just visit their Facebook page.
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