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The Founder's Story

The story of the extraordinary bond that exists between animals and myself began with a horrific series of events in my life. 

As a young child, at the age of four, my aunt’s husband abused me for the first time.

I did not dare tell any adult because, as many pedophiles do, he threatened to harm me if I spoke out. He also threatened to kill my beloved dog, my dear dog Mitzi. I told her everything and she kept my secret. I cried into her fur and hugged her neck so tightly that I don’t know how it did not hurt her. She was my refuge. She was my lifeline.

When Mitzi passed, I asked the Lord to send someone to help me cope with my horrific secret. And then one day Brandy and I found each other. I went to the Humane Society. A very strong yet inexplicable feeling drew me there. Every dog came to the front of the run except for one. She cowered in the back, and could not stop shaking. And so I knew the Lord had now sent me someone to help me again. I shared my life with her for 18 beautiful years through all the trials, including telling my family what had happened and having no-one believe me.

Soon I knew what I was meant to do in this lifetime of mine. I was a victim. I had trusted and that trust was betrayed. I had to become a survivor. I went through an agonizing amount of struggling, searching and finally forgiveness. But I never forget what it felt like to go through all the different stages.

Each orphan who comes to live at our sanctuary has been through tremendous trials and tribulations as well. I have no formal training in veterinary medicine, but I have learned more than I could ever have imagined through the years. Some things you don’t need to go to school for, like how to approach a cat who has been terrorized and victimized just like I was. Sometimes they run and hide under things, just like I tried to do. And then there are the wonderful breakthroughs often after years of fear and anguish, they finally look into my eyes or let me touch them ever so gently. The bond of trust has finally been earned. The wall comes down. There is peace for them perhaps for the very first time. Sometimes it takes months sometimes years. But it is always worth the wait.

The healing has now come full circle. In some bizarre way, I know that had I not been abused and violated, I would not be doing what I am doing today. Through a horrific vile act of violence and betrayal, has come a healing place for both myself and each orphan who comes through the door.

Lisa Mary Ruoppolo


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