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Local ladies protect animals, help the community

By Meg Dickens FREELANCE WRITER

Animals are innocent creatures entirely dependent on an owner to ensure their wellbeing. Locals Melissa Gentry and Mandy Neylon are the voice for animals in this area. Both ladies go above and beyond to protect these creatures and find them a place to call home.

 

Melissa Gentry cuddles one of her rescues. Her shelter, Rescue D.O.G. & End of Life Sanctuary, was founded in 2000. Rescue D.O.G. is a partner shelter with North Shore Animal League America in N.Y. & Fauquier County SPCA in Warrentown VA. Submitted photo

Melissa Gentry

Gentry has always had a love for animals. She began her nonprofit no-kill animal shelter Rescue D.O.G. & End of Life Sanctuary nearly two decades ago after finding a dog called Sam in Trade that no agency in 60 miles would assist. Gentry is driven by the love for neglected and abused animals. Seeing their need motivates her to work harder to make a difference.
Gentry is a Johnson County native. Her parents were her strongest influence. Her father Bud is the pastor at Dewey Christian Church, and her mother Nancy runs Mountain City Antiques which also raises funds for the rescue.
“They have taught me that all things are possible with Christ at the center of my life,” Gentry exclaimed. “This rescue is His. I am just the hands He uses to get the job done.”
The rescue dominates the majority of Gentry’s time, and the job is more of a lifestyle than an occupation.
The constant care, along with multiple monthly transports, rescues, and emergency visits, is very time-consuming. Both Gentry and Neylon tend to bring their work home with them.

 

Mandy Neylon heads out on the job. Neylon helped drop the county’s animal euthanasia
rate down by 80 percent and has personally
taken in rescues herself. Submitted photo

Mandy Neylon

Neylon’s love for animals blossomed when she was a young girl. She and her family moved from her birthplace in the Arizona desert to a mini farm in Ohio. She has worked with animals for the majority of her life and became Johnson County’s Animal Control Officer almost four years ago.
Neylon is an advocate for stricter pet protection laws as she deals with the “worst side of humanity.”
Neylon grew up surrounded by family and animals. Her family was her biggest influence. Her family and peers helped shape her in ways that show in her personal and professional life. Neylon has no regrets. She is adamant that her choices lead to the person she became.
Both individuals depend highly on the community. Neylon and Gentry work diligently to protect animals. They work with each other, the community, and groups outside the area. Previous pet euthanasia rates averaged around 80 percent. Recent reports show both 2018 and 2019 rates are down to 0 percent.
“It takes a village to save the lives of these animals. No one person can do it all,” said Neylon. “It takes everyone from the people that ask for help to the ones that share information, transport, volunteer, donate, foster, and adopt these animals.”