Wilton Manors Lesbian Rescues Animals for a Living
Before September 2011, Amy Roman was a manicurist.
When she started doing pet rescuing in South Florida about 10 years ago, she became more involved in saving abandoned animals. But it wasn't until she started her grassroots organization, 100+ Abandoned Dogs of Everglades, FL, that she became engulfed in rescuing pets in Broward and Miami-Dade.
"This is my life," Roman said of her rescuing. "I do this 24/7. We go out on rescues and bring dogs to Imperial Point."
That's the VCA Imperial Point Animal Hospital, where Medical Director Dr. Bob Buzzetti has been for more than 36 years. Roman and her crew have been coming in for over a year, and her notion of '24/7' isn't an understatement.
"She is here every day, seven days a week," Buzzetti says. "What Amy does is really take care of these animals."
Roman, 44, resides in Wilton Manors with her partner, Carol Daniello. Roman said it's Daniello who takes care of the home while she has made her pet rescue organization her life's work.
"My girlfriend pays the rent. I have three dogs and five cats and my house is immaculate," Roman said.
Daniello, 41, is a home healthcare physical therapist. When she isn't working, she is with Roman on rescues. The couple has been together a year. This is Roman's first relationship with a woman.
"I was married for seven years," Roman says. "I've been searching and dating men and never found 'it.' I was never involved in the gay community."
It was when she started to spend time with people in her rescue that were involved in the community that she met Daniello.
"Her and I just clicked," she said. "For the first time in my life, I'm home. I feel alive."
Rescuing comes first, she said, but her relationship allows her "to be free." Not just with her sexuality, but with her love for saving animals.
100+ Abandoned Dogs has grown to more than 19,000 Facebook fans since the organization's creation. But despite the overwhelming support, the $150 adoption fee doesn't even begin to cover the $15,000 cost to rescue and treat each animal. Buzzetti said that while they don't charge full price on what they would normally for treating dogs and cats, they do work for "severely below cost."
"We don't make money off of them, but we do get new clients from working with them," Buzzetti says.
After rescues, animals are taken to VCA Imperial Point to get spayed, neutered and vaccinated. They also stay until adopted.
"[Roman] doesn't just hand the pets out to just anyone," Buzzetti said. "She really interviews them to make sure they go to a good home." Out of the hundreds they've treated and gotten adopted, he said that only one has come back.
The news coverage of Roman's efforts haven't gone unnoticed. On the group's Facebook page, she lists the growing number of media outlets where the group has been featured. Every few weeks, the group heads out to the Everglades or Homestead or other places where they get tips of abandoned pets. The group, usually 20 to 30 volunteers, starts out as more, but Roman said many either don't make it that far or can't "hang on." Buzzetti has been on a rescue with her.
"We don't get very many cats, but I went on a rescue and brought back a cat," he said. "Down in Homestead, in a farm area, and we were out there for eight hours." He also says that there are people dedicated to bringing in abandoned pets. On his trip, they brought a truckload of food to a woman who was housing strays.
"No other organization does this rescue," Buzzetti says. "A couple weeks ago we had 27 dogs come in." Of those 27, seven are still remaining at the hospital waiting to be adopted.
On Feb. 23, the rescuers will head out again with 90 registered volunteers. To volunteer for future rescues, find out how you can help, or for more information, visit the group on Facebook: /ABANDONEDDOGSEVERGLADES or email Amy Roman at firstname.lastname@example.org.