Texan resident Judy Obregon never expected that a turn down an access road would spin her life about 180 degrees. But what began as a drive around Fort Worth’s Echo Lake quickly turned into a life mission.
“I was driving down the service road, and I spotted a stray,” she told Inside Edition. Soon after, she noticed another feral dog.
Unbeknown to Obregon, she had stumbled into a notorious abandonment area, a place where countless people went to slough off unwanted pets. The sheer magnitude of the problem didn’t deter her, though.
She spent a week gaining the trust of that first stray, and she eventually managed to take it home with her and get it fostered. That effort drew the attention of others.
“People in the area started coming up to me about other dogs that they’d seen,” she said. “They gave me locations of dogs that had been dumped.”
Those were the beginnings of The Abandoned Ones, a rescue shelter that seeks to save the most seemingly hopeless canines. So far she has rescued and rehomed over 200 animals.
“I save and rescue animals from rural areas, areas known for dog-fighting, and I also rescue chained-up animals that are left outside completely neglected,” she told The Dallas Morning News in 2011. “I know I can’t save them all, but trying won’t hurt.”
Her hopeful outlook masks a depressing reality. Many dogs die long before Obregon ever gets to them, and some face debilitating injuries.
One case involved a German shepherd with a rear leg that had been amputated by a shotgun blast. Obregon spoke with the owners, convinced them to let her have the animal, and got medical care for it.
In 2016, she drove around Echo Lake yet another time and discovered a flea-bitten, skeletally thin female pit bull. Not long after, she found that dog’s puppy, which had also been abandoned.
“My heart is for the voiceless,” she explains. “Animals can’t speak, so we are all they have.”