Woman 'pays it forward' to rescue animals while battling breast cancer

Woman 'pays it forward' to rescue animals while battling breast cancer

It's hard to hear over all the barking, but Paula Whiteamire knows every dog's name. She is at Safe Harbor Veterinary Hospital just about every day with one of her rescues.

Right now she is rescuing 40 dogs, a few cats, and really any animal that comes to her in need.

"That fluctuates and changes every day, we just pulled one from Santa Rosa on Saturday," Paula said. "Everyday something is coming in."

You can't tell by the smile on her face usually on her face, but she has had one heck of a year. She was diagnosed with breast cancer back in June.

"The dogs and the need is what keeps me going," Paula said. "Everyone is like you need to stop. I'm like if I stop, I'm done. "

She has had several rounds of chemotherapy and often that same day, she is picking up a dog in need. The chemo was extra hard on her body because she has diabetes.

The fluctuations in her blood sugar have sent her to the hospital several times and even caused her to total her car.

"I rear-ended somebody because I couldn't see how far away they were," Paula explained.

She is taking a break from the chemotherapy and is currently awaiting surgery. Her faith remains strong - her passion for animals unwavering.

That's why more than 300 people voted for Paula to be our Hill-Kelly "Holiday Pay It Forward" Grand Winner.

Her friend Laura nominated her.

Laura Booth with Friends of the Escambia County Animal Shelter said, "There is no bigger champion in my opinion. I think anybody involved in animal rescue knows you aren't going to save them all, but Paula will give it her best shot. She never stops. "

Paula thought we were there to get more information for the contest that's when we surprised her with the news!

Miles Bentley with Hill-Kelly Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ramp said, "As a matter of fact, you are a grand winner! Come here, Laura."

Her grand prize? Lots of dog food and $1,500.

We asked Paula, "What's going through your head?," and she said, " Who am I going to help?" Paula Whiteamire, the definition of Paying It Forward.

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