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Uplifting Person of the Day | Leo Grillo

Leo Grillo is an actor, but it's likely that you won't recognize him from movies or television. That's because Grillo is famous for something a little different: rescuing animals. He's made it his life's goal not to win an Oscar, but to care for abandoned animals.

Nearly 35 years ago, Grillo believed that he would be able to convince people to stop leaving dogs and cats in the forests and deserts of southern California. Despite his best efforts, people continued to drop off countless animals to fend for themselves in the wilderness.

Grillo would not accept defeat. He might not be able to stop people from leaving their animals on the side of the road, but he could make a vow to care for any animal that crossed his path. With that promise in mind, he formed DELTA (Dedication & Everlasting Love to Animals) Rescue. Today, the organization is the largest no-kill, care-for-life sanctuary in the nation for abandoned pets. Over 1,500 dogs, cats and horses are cared for at the sanctuary's 115 hilltop acres in western Los Angeles County.

Grillo began the sanctuary in 1979 when he found an abandoned, malnourished Doberman-Labrador he named Delta. Delta was the first pet that he saved, but he soon found many more that needed his help. On a hike through the same forest later that year, he and Delta found 35 abandoned dogs.

Dr. Gaylord Brown met Grillo six years later when he brought a dog to the hospital that was hit by a car. Grillo was determined to make the dog well at any cost.

"I was shocked by his readiness to say 'Go ahead, go ahead.' I remember telling my staff at the time, 'I don't know how much longer this guy will be around because he is spending all his rescue money on one animal,'" Brown said.

He ended up being around a very long time. Grillo became an expert fundraiser, and was able to support his growing shelter. Eventually, Grillo was even able to convince Dr. Brown to give up his private practice to work full-time at a DELTA hospital. The hospital can perform surgeries, X-rays, and anesthesia. In addition to the hospital, Grillo bought three fire engines to protect the property so that he can contain any fires that may occur.

Grillo doesn't use money to solve all of the problems at the sanctuary. Sometimes, the best solution is something that he has to build on his own. When the dogs needed housing, Grillo made straw-baled dog houses out of 25 bales of rice straw, three sheets of plywood, and stucco. These houses will last for the life of the dog. For a finishing touch, he adds a pool to each of the dog's quarters.

Grillo doesn't wait for someone to call him obsessed. He does it himself. He combined his experiences as an actor and his love for animals into a documentary called “The Rescuer, A Story of Obsession.” In the film, he does what he does best: searching for lost dogs deep in the California wilderness. (Huffington Post)


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