Leah Purcell of Spindletop Rescue made MSN!!!
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Women Working for Change
Leah Purcell: Saving the four-legged victims of Hurricane Katrina
By Janet Cawley
For 18 years, Leah Purcell has single-handedly owned and operated Spindletop, a refuge for homeless, abused and neglected dogs on the outskirts of Houston. Although she specialized in the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier, she helped other breeds, as well.
But it was Hurricane Katrina that really put her to the test and turned her into a tireless hero as she made countless trips between Texas and Louisiana, bringing back over 400 dogs (plus dozens of cats and a big white pig).
Purcell, 39, left immediately for New Orleans after Katrina struck last August 29, leaving abandoned and homeless animals everywhere –- including a large number of pit bulls and pit bull mixes. Rather than rounding them up herself, she went to the shelters and took the animals already there so they could house more.
"We emptied two shelters twice in September," she remembers. With the animals packed into her trailer, she drove back to Houston and set about finding them foster homes until they could -– hopefully -– be reunited with their owners. Then back and forth she went for the rest of the year, spending Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's in New Orleans. Among the dogs she's brought back are pit bulls but also "Rottweilers, German Shepherds, bassets, beagles, several English bulldogs, Great Danes and rat terriers." Her tally to date is 416 dogs, 51 cats and that big farm pig.
Purcell, who was a finance major at the University of Houston and once worked as an accountant, is still doing rescue work in New Orleans today, including going around to addresses where animals were found and leaving notices on the door explaining to any returning owner how to find their pets. In addition, she tries to post details about the animals on Petfinder.
Ask her why she's so devoted to animals and Purcell laughs, "I'm a nutcase." Try telling that to the hundreds of pets now living safe, healthy lives thanks to her.
For more information on Spindletop and how you can make a donation, visit http://www.spindletoppitbullrefuge.org
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