Auburn Family

Too many animals never get to experience what it's like having a loving family and warm home. One Auburn University student is on a mission to change that and has already made quite a dent.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, there are an estimated 70 million stray cats living in the United States and even more dogs. With the help of Abbey Johnson, a sophomore at Auburn, that number is a bit smaller.

For years, Johnson and her family have been dedicated to helping the helpless.

"When I was in high school, we found a litter of seven different lab-mix puppies that had been dropped off in a box on the side of the road," Johnson said. "So we took them in, posted about them online, and got all of them homes within a week!"

Several of the animals they have rescued have become their own adopted pets, including an abandoned kitten with an injured eye found in their backyard a few years ago.

"It turns out she was attacked by some kind of bird and her eye had to be removed," Johnson said. "Now she lives at home as a family pet of ours, with one eye, and does great!"

Surprisingly, more than 35% of cats in the U.S. are acquired as strays.  About 29% of both cats and dogs are adopted from shelters and rescues.

Johnson's first dog actually came from a shelter that had rescued her from death row at animal control.

"She's absolutely my best friend and to think about her being put to sleep just because she was unwanted really makes me want to help other dogs and cats out there that just aren't given the chance to be," Johnson said.

In the most recent rescue, Johnson took in a severely malnourished dog discovered in the back of an abandoned body shop, naming her Olive. After receiving treatment in a foster home, she plans to keep Olive as her own.

"I have become really attached to her, so my family and I decided that we are going to be keeping her when she recovers," Johnson said.

With her spare time, Johnson enjoys riding her horse and volunteering at the Lee County Humane Society.  She became a volunteer during her first semester of college.

"I signed up so that I could still get to be around the animals I love while giving them some much-needed socialization," Johnson said.

As for the future? Johnson plans to major in psychology and continue onto graduate school in pursuit of a degree in animal behavior and cognition.

Upon graduation, she is open to working with wild or domestic animals that need homes but may have fixable behavioral or developmental issues.

Visit to become a volunteer or learn more about shelter adoption.

(Photo credits // Abbey Johnson)

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