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Burnt Offering: Leo Grillo Defines What Makes America Great

I would like to take a few moments of your time dear readers, away from the fray of politics, and give some awareness to what makes our country great. Our citizens.

Yes, it is not the Congress or the Senate or the President who make America great, it’s the people — people from all over this great land who give of themselves and make a difference. I used to love listening to the late Paul Harvey. He would take an individual or incident and then surprise us with “the rest of the story” — something we didn’t know about or pay attention to but that had made a difference in our lives…

leo-pitLeo Grillo and friend

I would like to speak of an actor, an actor who most do not know, and not because of a lack of talent. Thirty years ago he made a decision, or should I say, a decision was thrust on him, and his life took a different path.

Leo Grillo had always wanted to act. He majored in theater at Emerson College and came out West to study with the legendary acting coach Charles Conrad before starting work as an actor. He lived in a small apartment with his three cats and his dog Delta, who he had rescued in the mountains of Los Angeles.

One afternoon, wanting to take Delta for a run, Leo drove to a forested area and what would happen next changed the course of his life, and many others. While Leo and Delta jogged along a trail, 35 abandoned and starving dogs came out and approached them. Realizing these dogs had not eaten in weeks, Leo came back with food, and a strange thing happened when he saw the love and thanks these helpless and unwanted animals gave him.

That night Leo went home, but the outpouring of love and gratitude these dogs gave him weighed on his soul and he could do nothing less than come back every day to feed and care for them. He also called every municipal, state and national organization that supposedly assisted abandoned animals but met a dead end. Finally, without financial help from any governmental agency, Leo was able to continue caring for the dogs himself, even buying antibiotics to put in their food during an outbreak of distemper – and if one of the animals got real sick, he took them to a vet.

Before he knew it, Leo had 250 dogs he was caring for.

Acting took a back seat. He had found another calling.

This happened 30 years ago this week and today these animals are known as Leo’s children, because he views them as such. Today, Leo is the founder and President of D.E.L.T.A. Rescue, the first and largest no–kill, care-for-life sanctuary of its kind in the world, with over 1000 dogs and over 500 cats!

While he may not be a household name as an actor, he is known, loved, and respected by all true animal lovers. He may also be feared because Leo will take on any one or any agency when it comes to the welfare of animals – and believe me, he has, I know this for a fact. I also know that this is an authentic person who walks the walk. I have personally witnessed the care and empathy he has for these animals, which can best be described as a St. Francis kind of zeal and sincerity.

Leo and D.E.L.T.A. Rescue can be proud of many accomplishments above and beyond the caring of the unwanted. Their dedication to animal care has resulted in the first kidney dialysis program for dogs and cats at the University of California-UC Davis; a program which led to advances in medical care for humans. Leo invented the straw bale doghouse, a doghouse that stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter (I know because I went in one to check it out). Today this innovation is promoted by the African Congress of Nations, Maneka Gandhi of India, and is used in Bosnia in their very first animal shelter.

Leo and D.E.L.T.A. sponsor the only wartime animal haven in Afghanistan for injured dogs and cats, and another of his projects is “Animals on the Edge,” which allows animals across the globe to receive Leo’s help. During the Reagan years Leo was responsible for saving 1,000 mustang horses when he put an ad in Variety asking if anyone could help him get in touch with the president (Reagan was a horse lover). Well, Washington responded and “Horse Rescue of America” was founded.

Today, Leo assists Peter Goin with his photographic survey of the Santa Clara River, which runs over a hundred miles. This survey has helped fight the devastating wildfires that endanger California. Always in the thick of it, at times one may even mistake Leo for a firefighter on the evening news.

Leo has even produced a film called “Magic,” where Christopher Lloyd plays the voice of a dog — an angel come to help a father and daughter in distress. This film should help to create a culture change in how animals are perceived.

This is just a taste of what Leo and D.E.L.T.A. have done for both people and animals. A full accounting would be too numerous to list because he is one of those Americans with the passion to act and not wait for the government to do something. He also inspires others to act.

When Leo brought the idea of a pet tax exemption to my attention, I took the idea to Congressman McCotter. Today “The Happy Act,” HR 3501, is a bill currently making its way through Congress that will allow for owners to deduct their pets (www.petexemption.org) from their taxes.

The greatness of our country comes from the will, know-how and passion of our people. So join me in congratulating Leo Grillo and D.E.L.T.A. Rescue for their 30 years of outstanding accomplishments.

Happy anniversary to Leo, a great American and devoted father to 10 year old Meguire…

And now you know the rest of the story.

by Robert Davi –  Big Hollywood

Posted:  Just One More Pet

September 15, 2009 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Fostering and Rescue, Just One More Pet, Pets, Political Change, Stop Animal Cruelty, Success Stories, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment