Deland has so many historical locations, each having a story that needs to be told. Our journey begins at ‘Journey’s End’ an animal shelter for the ones that need forever care; a hospice for animals if you will. Dogs, Cats, Horses, Birds and even Goats, all of which have: permanent or terminal illness, have been abused, or neglected of medical care… these are the lives they seek to save. Read more tonight at 6:00 when we launch HappyDeland.com
Posted by Happy Deland on Monday, March 21, 2016
This is a story about compassion, hard work, a “blind crippled rooster named Curly” and much more! Many Deland natives have never heard of a wonderful place in Deland FL, where crippled or handicap stray animals can go for sanctuary and to live their lives with comfort, companionship and health. Happy Deland Online News Publication was searching for their first place to write about in Deland. They wanted a place that not only does good works in the community but also shows the compassion and love that is so important to highlight in an era where nearly everything on the news is negative. Upon arrival to Journey’s End Animal Sanctuary, Happy Deland co-founders Josh Parisoe and myself, Jason Jurss, were greeted with enthusiasm by an energetic woman in her mid-80’s named Florence Thuot (pronounced thee-ott). I turned to Josh and jokingly said “Our journey begins at Journeys End!”
Florence began this project with her husband Paul in 1976. Paul and Florence were volunteer animal cruelty investigators for the Volusia County Sherriff’s Department. Their compassionate endeavor began by bringing home the neediest of the strays that were handicapped and destined for euthanasia. They wanted to provide lifelong care for these animals. She describes it as a “hospice for animals”. After speaking with so many of the volunteers and staff, we realized that it is so much more. It is a large, diversified, extended family for animals that would otherwise have none.
Florence told us, “One day, in the mid-80’s, a friend and I found a dog on the road over by the old K-Mart. The poor thing was so bad off that the pads on its feet were raw, bleeding and so worn out it could hardly walk. I thought “oh, my husband is going to kill me if I bring another dog home”. He was fixing the pool in the back yard, so we drove up, hid in front of the house and let the dog out. When we arrived home Paul said excitedly, “Guess what! This dog just walked up the driveway and came right to me, look it”!! She fondly reminisces “To the day he died, he didn’t know what we did. He had never had a pet in his life when we married, but was more fanatical about animals when he passed, in 1994, than even I am. He loved the animals so much.”
Initially the sanctuary was funded entirely by Florence and Paul. “We use to go to Europe for a month every summer, now I can hardly get away to go to the grocery store because I am so busy”, Florence said in a jovial tone and ring of truth in her voice. In 1988 a board of directors was formed and in 1999 the Journey’s End Sanctuary was granted non-profit status. Now donations, local Deland volunteers and sponsorships provide full funding for the operation.
The sanctuary looks exactly like a small slice of paradise that was built, room by room, out of Paul and Florence’s home to resemble a farm like setting. As we received the personal tour from Florence, there was an overwhelming sense of purpose and duty portrayed by the many volunteers and staff that would enter and leave the rooms. The phone rings constantly and there is a flurry of activity around every corner. “We have over 70 calls a week from people who want us to take animals, I wish we could do more”, said Florence. She tells us the story of each and every animal as though she is talking about an old friend.
As we entered a room full of frisky felines (about 20 or so) a black and white cat named Oreo immediately greeted us. He walked with a gait, much like show horse. His front paws would extend out in front of him into the air and then he would place them intently down, in a fashion that is reminiscent of a proud soldier in a dutiful march. “There are so many personalities all living together peacefully, we could all learn a thing or two from this place”, I said to Florence with a smile.
The story of Bones is one that shows the true dedication of the people that make Journeys End Sanctuary worthwhile. We entered the area where Bones was staying, the air conditioning was set at exactly 76 degrees and a cozy, raised bed fit for a king is built below a window. Bones greeted us by walking up to me gently and mischievously walking directly between my legs. His height left me standing straddled as though riding a small horse. He wanted to be center of the action and craved the attention like a child does a piece of candy. He pressed his nose and face lovingly against my leg and looked up with what could only perceived as a smirky grin. There was an immediate and strong connection with this gentle giant. It was surprising to hear that he was picked up in Baton Rouge and was labeled as “vicious”. Florence told a story of a young woman volunteer, who worked at the sanctuary for months. She had two young boys and asked if they could permanently adopt Bones. Florence reluctantly allowed the adoption, thinking that it would be a great home and life for him. Shortly thereafter, the young woman’s phone was turned off, she moved away and no one knew where. Two years later, a call was placed to Journey’s End by authorities in Baton Rouge. Bones was caught with a control pole and caged. “He is vicious and no one can approach him”, they said. His teeth were filed down and he was used as a bait dog in a dog fighting ring. “If it were not for the computer chip implant he never would have been found”, said Florence. Fighting back tears of rage and sorrow I asked, “How did he get home”? “Amy and another volunteer drove all night long to go get him,” she replied. Amy, the facilities manager and Florence’s right hand, drove nearly 700 miles, straight through the night, after working all day long, to rescue Bones. Now Bones is a happy and gentle creature as described at the beginning of this story. If any readers are interested in helping Bones and other animals in need, you can DONATE HERE and get involved on their Facebook page for more about whats happening at Journeys End.
It is a motto of Happy Deland Publications that “life is too short to not be happy”. Thank you, Florence and Journey’s End, for starting something that has inspired so many wonderful people (such as Amy) to make a difference in this world and spread the love, happiness and hope that makes Deland such a wonderful place. We truly feel blessed to have started our journey with your story and we look forward to telling much more of it and those of your volunteers and the happy animals here on Happy Deland!
P.S. More to come about the “blind crippled rooster”, the “rock star pig” and the “Goat Ghetto”!! Stay happy my friends!!