Pay It Forward: A Voice For Our Animals

It's a mom and pop shop, but with no business hours.

"Either we're always open or we're always closed," laughed Debbie Wallace, Owner of Down by the Creek Companion Animal Sanctuary in Long Grove, Iowa. "The thing is we're never gone."

Its customers are dogs, cats, rabbits, turtles, roosters, pigs, and even a miniature horse - just to name a few.

Down by the Creek is a non-profit, started 10 years ago by Debbie - who has made rescuing and rehabbing pets her top priority.

"We don't try to save the world by trying to find homes for every homeless animal," she explained. "That's not who we are. There's plenty of wonderful places out there doing that, but what we are is a place for 60 to 100 rescued pets that become an ambassador about cruelty, against cruelty. Their voice is my voice and we're just trying to make a difference that way."

It's that advocacy for animals that inspired Marlena Urbain and her two kids - 9-year-old Ava and 6-year-old Elijah - to volunteer at Down by the Creek on Saturdays.

"She brings programs out into the community and teaches other people how to treat animals humanely and about awareness and she kind of carries on the stories of these animals that have been rescued and shares that with the community and she just has a heart of gold and we're happy to help her," said Marlena.

That's why they wanted to Pay It Forward, with the help of WQAD News 8 and Ascentra Credit Union.

"I'm just blown away," responded Debbie. "I'm blown away, but thank you so much for thinking about us. We've been able to touch thousands in the Quad Cities every year for the last several years and sometimes I have to pinch myself. I can't believe we're here."

Debbie says they did more than 200 educational programs in 2016 and with an extra $300, they can expect to do even more in 2017.

To donate to Down by the Creek, Marlena has started a GoFundMe Page. Their goal is $1,000.

If you know someone doing great things in the community, consider nominating them for the Pay It Forward Program by clicking here.