Handicapped animals receive love at sanctuary

Last Updated: Sunday, August 19, 2012

One DeLand woman has been taking in special needs pets at her home since 1976. It's why she's being honored in this week's Everyday Heroes.

Journey's End Animal Sanctuary is home to 56 dogs, 240 cats, four horses, three sheep, two pigs and a bunch of chickens. Founder Florence Thuot knows all of them by name.

“Pebbles likes tummy rubs … That's Sunshine … This is Patty. We've had her about 8 years now … This is Skippy. He was from Ocala. He was handicapped so we brought him and gave him wheels, said Thuot as she named her pets.

“Our philosophy is we bring them in, we have no cages. They live like they would in a private home although there are many of them. They sleep on the couches, they swim in the pool and we keep them for life,” Thuot said. Most of our animals are handicapped in one way or another, but 100 percent of them are overly friendly and love visitors and love company.”

One of those visitors is a former teacher who began volunteering after suffering a stroke in 2008. She credits part of her recovery to Florence and Journey's End.

“And I think it's because of Florence that I was able to drive further because the first place I tried to drive to was here and I made it. My husband got me a GPS and everybody gave me a standing ovation and it was Florence's love and the animal's love that made me want to get out of the house and find something I could do to help,” said Lauri, who suffered a stroke.

“We can give them the medical attention. We can clean them up, we can feed them well, but with the numbers that we have, we don't have enough hands to love and touch and really that's what's needed,” Thuot said.

Journey's End Animal Sanctuary is funded 100 percent by public donation and by the compassion of Thuot.