When Danny Burke first stopped by Christina Bamaca’s house in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago to drop off cats Fluffy and Rocky from their spay/neuter appointments, he had no idea what he’d stumbled upon. There was a Maltese, a cocker spaniel, a German shepherd, a St. Bernard, and as he looked around, the dogs just kept appearing. Was it a hoarding situation? A breeding operation?
Back when Matt Piccone worked for a cable company in Rochester, N.Y., his job was to disconnect people who were stealing service. “I was in and out of 200 yards a day unannounced,” he says. In those yards and back alleys, he found more than illegal cable hookups: He saw dogs tied up all day, animals in need of veterinary care and stray cats struggling to care for their litters.
When Holly Thoms saw that her local animal shelter was going to start euthanizing dogs because it didn’t have the staffing to care for them, she leaped into action. “I grabbed one of my friends and went down there and said, ‘We’re gonna clean up poop, you know—try and help out.’”
That was more than 15 years ago, but Thoms’ passion for helping animals hasn’t flagged.