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Tennessee National Guard Woman Saves Money From Iraq Deployment To Start Shelter

By CPT Darrin Haas For

When Mandy Bellemore joined the Tennessee Army National Guard as a Military Policeman, she swore to “serve and protect” those in her care. It’s an oath she took seriously and takes seriously, but her concern for those in need extends w-a-y beyond the ordinary.

When Bellemore first moved to Tennessee, she was saddened when she saw how some animals were being treated. “I saw dogs and cats simply left along the highway,” she said. “Some were tossed out of moving cars to fend for themselves. These poor things were just thrown away like trash, and I was afraid they’d eventually starve or get killed.”

“I love them all, but I especially love dogs,” she explained, as she gently petted Milo, a sad-eyed Chihuahua mix she recently rescued. “I’ve always wanted to do something to help the ones who’ve been abandoned, neglected and abused, and I became determined to make a difference in their lives.”

And make a difference is exactly what she’s done … in a big way.

“In the beginning, I started to take in stray animals and care for them; now I have 10 dogs and nine cats of my own,” she said with a hint of a grin. “Then I decided, ‘Something has to be done for all the others.’ ”

Back in 2009, ideas were whirling around in her head on how she could start some sort of shelter for dogs. It didn’t take her long, though, to realize that she was thinking about something that might be bigger than she could handle.

Then everything was suddenly interrupted when she was alerted and a short while later deployed to Iraq with Cleveland, Tennessee’s 252nd MP Company.

“To me it was just temporarily putting things on hold while I served my country,” she explained. “I never stopped dreaming about easing the suffering of those unwanted, uncared-for animals.”

But then it hit me: my deployment would be a great opportunity to earn the money I needed to start the shelter! So I decided to save all my military pay and use it for exactly that.”

“Before I went to Iraq, my stepfather, Walter Foster, drove all the way from Tennessee to Fort Dix, NJ, to visit me where I was training before heading overseas. I had a four-day pass before we left for Kuwait, and in that time we put our heads together and came up with a final plan and even drafted some blueprints to build kennels.”

A short while later, using the money she was earning as a specialist, her stepfather started construction. Building the kennels from scratch, he laid the foundation and began erecting the structure in a hayfield near their home.

“The whole time I was gone, he kept me updated on how the project was going. I couldn’t wait to get home and help,” she recalled.

To read the rest, click here.

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Terri Williams
10 years ago

Excellent article! I am infuriated however, upon reading that the public is already dumping pets on her with threats of their murder if she doesn’t take them. I know firsthand all too well how that goes and until we enforce abandonment laws and make those people into the criminals they are, there will always be a need for no-kills to shelter the innocent beings that thanks to rotten humans, would otherwise pay with their lives. But I guess we’d have to change human nature to even have a chance at stopping it. Regardless, this is a great story and I am grateful to this woman and her stepfather for stepping into the trenches to make animals’ lives better!

Diana Cardenas
10 years ago

I love this, I love her, I love every animal, and they deserve the best! I am so happy people like Mandy exist. If i had the money I too would love to build a shelter by my home. But like they say it’s too big of a project for me to handle. And I can barely handle my part time job :/. I really hope her shelter has a great future!! She should build a website, to update us fans, and to accept donations and get volunteers and etc. 🙂 anyways well Good luck to ya.

10 years ago

Good on her! What a wonderful thing to do. Shame on those who treat their pets by neglecting them and even abandoning them. They need to see how their treatment affects animals, and they need counseling. How would these people feel if they were the pets, and were mistreated; they need a reality check! I have one little dog I got from a dog rescue place, and I love him like a family member; he’s my hairy kid. Kudos to Mandy and anyone who can take in homeless animals and even build a shelter; animals have feelings just like us.

10 years ago

Thank God for people like this!!! My sister-in-law and her sister have a pet rescue too. It’s so awful to see what horrible shape some of these animals are in when they get them!! I would love to be able to do something like this too, but unfortunately, I just don’t have what it takes. I do have 12 cats though, and that’s stretching it, but I love every one of them!! I’m like Barb, they’re my hairy kids! ;o) God Bless this woman and her step-father!!!


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