No one who knows me would ever call me an animal lover.

But to be clear, I'm not a hater either.

I married a dairyman almost 24 years ago and we raised three kids in the country.

That meant we had pets. Lots of them.

Over the years we fed dozens of stray cats, bottle fed two abandoned baby rabbits, nursed an injured bird back to health and even had a baby deer living in our garage for a short spell. That's not a joke.

On top of that, there have been more dogs that have come and gone than I can count, mostly because they were dumped off near our home and my son Aaron felt compelled to make each one a part of our family.

With every new animal that showed up, I would stiffen my upper lip and insist that it couldn't stay.

But once the crocodile tears started, I would load up the kids and head to Taylor Feed Store where, over the years, I made a significant contribution to their retirement fund in the form of dog food purchases.

Despite the dog poo in the yard and a puppy's penchant for chewing up flip flops and water hoses, not taking care of an animal that needed help was too much for even me to take.

And I suspect for you as well, which explains the outrage following the recent story of 10 puppies that had been dumped on the side of a road after their mother had been shot and killed.

I first learned about the story when Jennifer Aikman came to the E-T's office with the puppies and a story to tell.

Jennifer told me she founded Angels and Outlaws, an animal rescue organization in Hico, and that she had picked up the litter of puppies earlier that day.

Jennifer let me hold one of the puppies, so young their eyes were still not open, and my heart melted.

Since then Jennifer and Angels and Outlaws have been overwhelmed with donations and offers to help.

"I have received calls from all across the country and as far away as Germany, Portugal and Spain," she said. "We have hundreds of applications from people who want to adopt the puppies."

And there's more good news. After losing one of the puppies, the other nine are doing surprisingly well and have been taken in by two pit bull nursing mothers.

The adoption process will begin when the puppies are about 12 weeks old.

Until then, Angels and Outlaws will begin to sift through the hundreds of applications. They plan to assign four hopeful families to each puppy and ask them to submit videos telling why they should be chosen as an adoptive family.

"We are going to upload the videos to our YouTube page and let the public vote on which family gets the puppies," Jennifer said. "I think that would be fun. After all, these have become America's puppies."


If you are interested in learning more about Angels and Outlaws or adopting the puppies, call Aikman at 254-226-8402.

And don't forget, the Empire-Tribune features a pet of the week every Tuesday that is up for adoption at the Erath County Humane Society.

Sara Vanden Berge is the managing editor of the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at 254-965-3124 or Follow her on Twitter @ETeditor.