LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - In the words of Mary Hice, "Joni Lovelady was sent from heaven to care for God's creatures. She volunteered at the local Florence Lauderdale Animal shelter so long that they finally gave her a paying job. She has made it her life's mission to care/find homes for all of those sweet babies and spends every waking hour trying to find a loving home for them. She has a heart of gold and she should be recognized for her efforts in saving animal lives!"
How do you turn down a letter like that? You don't, and that's why Joni is this week's Pay It Forward recipient.
Joni Lovelady has a tattoo on her arm featuring a dog and cat and the words "I am their Voice."
"They can't speak for themselves and that's our job, you know, I feel like it's my job to speak for them and be an advocate for their well being and do everything I can to make their life what it should be, what they deserve," said Lovelady. "You can't put a price on saving little lives like this, you just, you know, you just can't."
"When she first came to the shelter, I believe their kill rate was between 50 and 60 percent and now you're down around one to two percent and that's just the ones they cannot save, that are too sick to save," said Mary Hice, of Joni.
Mary tells of one incident with a very sick puppy.
"It was snowing, it was cold, she didn't want to leave the little parvo puppy by itself, she brought it in her vehicle, hooked a heater up in her car and gave that animal, that puppy, shots every few hours to keep it alive," Hice said.
Joni says it was the least she could do.
"Here, it didn't stand much of a chance of even having a prayer of getting better and you know if I could take it home and medicate and even if, even though it still died, it didn't die here in a cage, alone, scared to death and sick," said Joni. "So if I can do that for a little creature then that's, that's what I want to do."
When Joni received the Pay It Forward check, the first thing she did was try to defer the credit to everyone else.
"It's everybody though, it just makes me feel bad, because there's so many people that do it."
But she was quick to say where the money would go.
"That'll pay for some spays and neuters and medicine and vaccines and supplies," said Joni.
Joni has some advice for people considering adopting a dog or cat.
"This is a 10 to 15 year commitment at least. It's not until you get a jerk boyfriend that wants to get rid of the kitten, it's from now until the animal dies, it's your responsibility, it can't take care of itself."
Joni is also adamant about this. "Fix your animals, that's the main message, FIX YOUR ANIMALS!" she said.
If you would like to adopt a shelter or rescue animal, volunteer or just make a donation, please contact one of the various shelters across the Tennessee Valley. They need your help.