The history of D.E.L.T.A. Rescue

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1998:

The history of D.E.L.T.A. Rescue
Adapted from “Is This The Place?”, by Leo Grillo
[Additional editorial notes are in brackets.]

1 9 7 9 – Leo Grillo, a Hollywood
actor, found 35 dogs starving in the wilderness
outside of Los Angeles. Without food or
shelter, their lives depended on his daily
feeding. Grillo learned to medicate these
dogs in the field when they were sick.
(Oscar, the last of those dogs, died in 1995.)
1 9 8 0 – Grillo leased kennel space.
He rescued those 35 dogs and about three
dozen more who were abandoned during that
first year. He found homes for most, but
kept about 20 because they were abused and
unwanted. He realized that most shelters
would kill them, but he refused, saying
“These animals are people too!”

1 9 8 2 – Dedication & Everlasting
Love To Animals was incorporated as a nonprofit
1983 – Besides the scores he had
in leased kennels, Grillo fed over 150 dogs in
the forest, and 29 dogs and 12 cats at his
house. Clearly he needed his own shelter. So
he set out to find one. In October [after the
Los Angeles County Animal Care and
Control Department cited him for having too
many animals, and sympathetic readers of a
newspaper article about the case sent him
$500, which he managed to use as a down
payment] he purchased a 50-year-old kennel
in El Monte, California, which he cleaned
up himself. This humble shelter became
home to 250 rescued dogs and cats. [It also
taught Grillo the shortcomings of trying to
meet the psychological needs of dogs and cats
in a conventional shelter environment. He
realized that conventional kennels were not
an appropriate design for longterm care, and
perhaps not very good for animals even in
short-term care either.] 1 9 8 5 – By now, Dedication &
Everlasting Love To Animals had acquired a
national reputation by bringing to the forefront
the plight of abandoned animals. Grillo
also acquired a ranch in Acton, California,
to house 60 rescued feral cats as well as rescued
livestock, horses, and burros.
1 9 8 6 – The first 23 acres of the
“Supershelter” were acquired. Immediately,
the 2,500-square-foot home was converted
into a 5,000-square-foot indoor cattery.
Grillo built the first of many spacious dog
yards with insulated clubhouses and wading
pools for his rescues.
1 9 8 8 – With permission from the
State of California, Grillo rescued over 80
cats from a popular seaside resort and ended a
25-year abandonment problem there.
1990 – Grillo formed the educational
division D.E.L.T.A. Productions, and produced
the video Safe House. Later, Grillo
founded a new educational nonprofit and produced
the D.E.L.T.A. Rescue Story TV show.
1 9 9 1 – A new state-of-the-art
2,500-square-foot veterinary hospital was
built at the Supershelter. [His wife Stacy, a
registered nurse, is the hospital chief of
staff.] It was only for D.E.L.T.A. Rescue’s
animals, but was soon filled. Grillo also
founded Horse Rescue of America as a nonprofit
organization to rescue horses and burros.
1993 – Dog Town, a prototype of
the “shelter of the future,” was created, complete
with heated and cooled in-ground dog
houses and large yards for each pair of dogs
to enjoy. Also, a second 2,500-square-foot
hospital building was constructed to relieve
overcrowding in the first. All animals are
treated at D.E.L.T.A. Rescue, even cancer or
other chronic patients.
T o d a y – D.E.L.T.A. Rescue has
more than 150 acres, a staff of 40, and houses
over 1,000 animals in more than 350 dog
yards containing more than 900 dog houses
and 400 wading pools, plus more than two
dozen separate indoor/outdoor catteries.
Livestock and other animals have a place to
live out their lives as well. Grillo, 49, provides
leadership, does all the rescuing and
fundraising himself, and plans on continuing.
[The D.E.L.T.A. Rescue budget for
1996, the most recent full year covered by
current IRS Form 990 filings, was $3.6 million,
including declared program expenses of
$3.2 million. After reallocating some public
education expenses associated with direct
mail from “programs” to “overhead,” the
D.E.L.T.A. Rescue “overhead” came to 23%
of the total; 25%-33% is normal among organizations
of comparable size. Assets stood at
$5.2 million, including $3.1 million in physical
facilities. The Council of Better Business
Bureaus Philanthropic Advisory Service
reported in July 1998 that D.E.L.T.A. Rescue
meets all CBBB standards.]

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