JARED FIELDS • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — The kennel doors opened at 9 a.m., and the seven dogs inside knew it was time for their walk.
Living Love Animal Rescue volunteers Anita Lloyd and Kathy Grimes divided the dogs into groups: two muscular pit-bull types; two short, shaggy terriers; and three medium-size mixed breeds.
Heavy rain from the previous night’s storm left two large pools of standing water at the bottom of the hill, which meant this walk was going to be special.
The dogs ran and played in the water, and, after a few minutes, the walks continued around the rescue’s nine acres.
The property just west of Marble Falls is the new home for Living Love Animal Rescue, a no-kill animal shelter. The nonprofit organization began moving onto the property in January after years of searching for a permanent home. The organization does not advertise its location to the public out of concern that people might drop off unwanted animals at the shelter unannounced.
Executive director Sandra Santee has been working in animal rescue for 15 years. Living Love had been in search of property for a permanent shelter as the nonprofit grew from garage sale fundraisers to its own thrift store on Main Street in Marble Falls in support of its mission.
“For five years, we looked for property, and we would come so close. Then something would happen, (and) it would fall through,” Santee said.
Santee said she was at the thrift store, 407 Main St., one day last year when a woman walked through the door.
The woman, Peggy Schwindt, didn’t know much about the organization until after her husband’s recent death. The couple had cats on their land, and she was looking to sell the property, which included barns her husband used for welding and storage. She wanted the cats to be taken care of after she moved.
A recent large donation and a grant led to Living Love looking to purchase land.
“I called everybody, and they fell in love with it,” Santee said. “One thing led to another, and, one year later, the place is ours.”
Santee has a short explanation for how the organization landed such a beautiful location.
“I tell everybody God gave us this,” Santee said.
The rescue began moving animals to the property at the first of the year. The shelter currently has the capacity for 12 dogs with outdoor runs coming soon. A separate building houses cats, including kittens and ferals.
For years, the organization relied on a network of volunteers who fostered animals and worked with other local rescue organizations.
Living Love Animal Rescue saves cats and dogs from animal control facilities in Cottonwood Shores, Marble Falls and Horseshoe Bay. Some cats are available for adoption at Pet Supplies Plus, 2201 U.S. 281 in Marble Falls. Photos of dogs available for adoption are at the store, too.
“It’s all about moving these babies and getting them forever homes,” said Ronda Welch, kennel and property manager for Living Love.
She lives on the property and oversees the rescue’s daily operations. That, plus coordinating a team of volunteers, leads to long days.
“I’m booting the rooster in the butt to get him to wake up,” Welch joked about how early she rises.
The ongoing cleaning, feeding and maintenance of the animals requires her constant attention. On top of that, the newness of it all still has the staff working out the logistics.
“We’re still trying to get things organized,” Welch said. “We’ve started seeing what we have to do and what our needs are, but we’re doing real good.”
Living Love is looking for more volunteers to do tasks such as cleaning, exercising the animals and training dogs.
“What we’re looking for are people who love animals and who want to have a wonderful time in a beautiful piece of property working with animals,” board member Claire Edwards said.
The group wants to build dog runs, find more volunteers and settle in at the new location.
“Mostly, we want to catch our breath,” Edwards said. “We’re not going to get in above our heads. We’re not going to have all these projects that we can’t handle. We’ll do them as they come up and as possible.”
Edwards said all the board members have their own strengths that have allowed the organization to flourish. Because of the people involved — from board members to volunteers — Edwards sees a bright future for Living Love.
“We plan to be here for a long time, and we are going to help the animals in the Hill Country,” she said.
For more information on adoptions or to volunteer, visit the thrift store or call (512) 755-4476.