Texan volunteers for the animals

Fifteen years ago, Texan Tammy Dalton came across a stray dog in need of serious medical attention. Tammy was in a rough part of town, and still a busy college student, but she sprung to action. She not only provided care, but also a home for the dog, whom she named Lilly. That one action inspired a lifelong passion to help animals – locally and at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Southern Utah. “If it’s in your heart to do it,” says Tammy, “you just get drawn in and it becomes part of you.”

Caring for animals in Houston, Texas

Today, Tammy volunteers for Wags to Whiskers, a No More Homeless Pets Network partner in the Houston, Texas, area. Animal care, adoptions, taking animals to the vet, and providing the muscle to carry donated pet food from the Houston Food Bank back to the rescue are all par for the course. However, a lot of her work is centered on helping the animals in the Fifth Ward, a low-income Houston neighborhood. Tammy fills feeding stations for stray dogs, and even asks workers at construction sites for leftover materials so she can build makeshift doghouses to give to people whose dogs have no shelter.

“Whatever it takes to help them out,” says Tammy.

Texan Tammy Dalton with Marshmallow the dog in the Grand CanyonHelping a stray dog with skin problems

In fact, it was during Tammy’s work in the Fifth Ward that she first met Marshmallow. While delivering pet food to people in need, she saw a dog peeking out from under a house. Neighbors said the dog had been there for days. The stray suffered from terrible skin ailments, and Tammy could not turn away. She says, “I feel that every dog deserves a chance.”

Understandably wary of humans, it took Tammy a month to win Marshmallow’s trust. Treatment was beyond her rescue group’s capability, so she contacted Best Friends and Marshmallow was accepted for admission. Now Tammy just had to get her there.

Visiting Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Ever since Tammy first heard about Best Friends, she wanted to visit. Taking Marshmallow to Best Friends provided the perfect opportunity. Since then, she has found it a little difficult to fully let go. Tammy has visited the Sanctuary three times since she brought Marshmallow in June 2012, and each time she does, she makes sure to spend lots of quality time with the dog she helped save. In fact, her entire volunteer experience in November was all Marshmallow – outings every day and sleepovers every night.

One unforgettable moment was when the pair visited the Grand Canyon. The park was empty, so a ranger allowed them to go to a normally dog-restricted viewpoint. The scenery was incredible, the air calm. The pair just quietly sat there for a moment of total peace.

“It was just her and I,” recalls Tammy. “I don’t think I could have that kind of a good day with too many people without some kind of drama. She lay down next to me and put her head on my leg. It was just perfect.”

Tammy Dalton with a dog volunteering at an adoption event back home in Houston, TexasVolunteering for Best Friends in Houston

Tammy loved her experience at the Sanctuary so much, she now volunteers for Best Friends back home in Houston. She worked a Best Friends booth at their local pet expo and was on the planning committee for the first Houston Strut Your Mutt. And she’s already promoting next year’s event, distributing Best Friends magazine at Wags to Whiskers adoption events. Tammy is thrilled for the opportunity to introduce the organization to her fellow Houstonians.

“I love the fact that Best Friends takes the ones that need it the most,” says Tammy. “To me it’s kind of like heaven on earth for dogs.”

Learn more about volunteering with Best Friends.

Photos courtesy of Tammy Dalton