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Leo Grillo/Delta Rescue

Story ID:5727
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Glendale California usa
Year:1979
Person:Leo Grillo
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Some weeks ago, First Lady Obama asked us to nominate the person who
inspires us. Wow, that's a toughie because there are quite a few people
who inspire me. I had to let that one slide.

But yesterday I received by snail mail a letter from Leo Grillo of D.E.L.T.A.
Rescue of Glendale, CA. When I was working, I always tried to send him
something for his animal rescue work which inspired me and still does.
Regretably, I have not been sending him my small checks for years now, but
I was glad that I heard from him regarding his 30- year anniversary of animal
rescue.

In the fall of 1979 Leo was living in a tiny apartment in Hollywood with his three
black cats. Delta, his dog, who he had rescued in the mountains earlier was
living in a rented back yard because pets -not even cats were allowed in his
apartment.

But his life was about to change dramatically on the morning he took Delta to
the forest to run around and exercise. There in a picnic area they found 35
starving dogs. What could he do? He left and returned with 5 large bags of dog
food which he spread out for those dogs to hungrily devour. He remembered then
their loving hearts and eyes filled with gratitude. That was 30 years ago.

Driving home, he realized that he had 35 new friends who now counted on him
to survive. What could he do in this predicament? What would others have
done? Of the drive home he said: "That drive home was hard. I knew I had to
help those dogs. I didn't want to leave them there, but I didn't know what else to
do. All I knew was that they needed to eat every day...so every day I made the
long drive to the forest to feed them."

Day after day he brought food for them, but then the rains came and some dogs
came down with distemper or parvo. He got antibiotics and vitamin C to put in the
dogs' canned food, and when some were so sick that he could outrun them, he took
those to the vet.

He really needed help and called all the local animal groups listed in the phone
book. None would help. He called the giant national groups who he was shocked
to learn that none of them spent their money on animals as he was doing. I can
understand his frustration and dismay with this because, even though all were
involved with animal rights, most did not keep animals.

If they did not provide shelters, why couldn't they help Leo who was trying to
save these dumped, homeless, hungry dogs? I too remember one big national
group who had a CEO who commanded a huge yearly salary. Those who knew
about this were scandalized and clearly this group was violating people's trust -
using the money for sumptious living instead of for animal causes. Leo is still
angry about these groups, but I believe that most salaries are now within the
reasonable range. And even though Leo still distrusts them, I am grateful to
many of them for educating me re the animal issues as well as for their work
to convince legislators to make needed humane changes for the animals.

Realizing that no one would help with these 35 dogs, he first rented space in
boarding kennels, feeding and cleaning after the dogs himself in order to save
money. Then he rented a house for his 29 dogs and though he tried to find
homes for them, he continually found more of them in the forest.

Always creative, he now needed money to buy a dumpy old kennel to house 250
dogs. He turned to the TV shows and told his story for the newspapers. The
Today Show even did three stories on him and Delta Rescue. Finally, people
responded and he was able to build his first animal shelter. The response was
good and years later, with the help of the donations of concerned people, he
was able to build his SuperSanctuary.

Today that SuperSantuary cares for 1500 animals and yes, monetary offerings
are still needed to feed the animals, hire workers and vets to care for them, and
to send those wonderful pictures and updates of the new animal rescues with
their often heart-breaking stories which usually end happily in Delta Rescue.
Leo is a gifted writer, and I had always waited eaglerly to read about his latest
rescues. If he hasn't already written a book about Delta Rescue, then he surely
should. It will bring more revenue and notoriety to his wonderful cause. Since
Leo is an actor - why doesn't someone make a movie of this wonderful story
and accomplishment? I am tired of seeing violence, gore, and sex in the movies.
I miss the wholesome ones of the past.

When Leo announced to friends that his shelter was a no-kill, some people
ridiculed the idea, but today there are hundreds of them. There were also other
enterprising innovations from Delta Rescue. Among them:

1.They started the world's first kidney dialysis program for dogs and cats at the
University of California, Davis.

2. They invented the straw bale doghouse which is now being promoted by the
African Congress of Nations and is being used in Bosnia for their very first
animal shelter.

3. They sponsored the only wartime animal haven in Afghanistan for injured
and homeless dogs and cats.

4. They took their expertise to India, Romania, Mexico and other countries to work
with locals to help injured and homeless animals.

5. And they just produced an educational feature called "Magic" which will hopefully
change how the world views animals.

Though I will send Delta Rescue a small check, I will have to tell Leo that as much
as I admire his work, my small pension will only allow me to help my own Cleveland
Animal Protective League, which is by the way, finally a no-kill shelter in the
hands of a very dedicated administrator - Sharon Harvey. She is very approachable
on the occasions I e-mailed her my animal concerns. And then there is Marta
who kindly helped me get my two feral grey twins altered. It is wonderful to work
with kind and helpful people like them with the animals we love.

Yes, Leo, I do remember your early beginnings and how stressful they must have
been. I always recognized your unfailing endeavors to answer all the hard questions
and problems re caring for so many dumped, unwanted dogs and cats and marveled
at how well you addressed those huge problems. I know you continuously need
funds to keep the 1500 animals fed. My hope and prayer is that all who can will
respond generously to this need. And wouldn't it be nice if some of those large
national organizations would do so as well? And what about Leona Hemsley's
bequest of millions of dollars for the animals? I believe her trustees have violated
the intent of her will. They should be called on this and sued. We sue for almost
everything else. Here's one much needed suit for the animals.

Anyone interested in learning more about DELTA - Dedication & Everlasting Love to
Animals please go to www.deltarescue.org.