By LOYD BRUMFIELD
Best Southwest/Grand Prairie/Oak Cliff editor
Back it up, girls! Back it up!”
It’s a blistering July afternoon in Cedar Hill, and Terry Ottley is walking the “back nine,” as she calls it, an expanse of land in south Cedar Hill that is home to Billie Jean and Sydney, two horses in her care.
“Once, I rescued people, but some of them didn’t want to be rescued,” Ottley said.
The Cedar Hill resident saves animals now — including Billie Jean and Sydney — and hopes to establish a permanent no-kill sanctuary with help from the city.
“She is someone who is an advocate of animals, and she’s taking in as many as she can,” said Cedar Hill City Council member Clifford Shaw, who is hoping to help Ottley establish her sanctuary. “She’s a big animal lover and just wants to see if we can do something to help.”
Billie Jean and Sydney are roaming on land that Ottley is leasing, but the 11-year Cedar Hill resident hopes to establish Gabby Sanctuary Ark on land of her own.
“I would like to have my own land, and eventually that will happen, but I can’t do it without assistance, I’ve found,” said Ottley, who is the community affairs manager for a Dallas bank.
Ottley has always been around animals, she said, and she has always fostered dogs and cats, but it wasn’t until 2009 when she discovered nine horses that were severely neglected in Ovilla that she decided to add those animals to her fostering duties.
“What I’m trying to do is get something like Operation Kindness on this side of south Dallas,” said Ottley, who has applied for nonprofit status and said she expects that to be finalized in a couple of months.
Ottley has had Sydney since September 2009, and the horse was more than 450 pounds underweight. Now, Sydney is about to turn 4 years old and is inseparable from Billie Jean.
“You do this after hours. You feed your horses once a day,” Ottley said as the horses follow her around as she feeds and waters them. “What you find is that if you’ve got 6 acres and 6 to 9 horses, that’s not enough. You need one acre per horse.”
Ideally, Ottley would like to use the old Tri-City Animal Shelter building for her rescued dogs and cats, and that’s where the city comes in.
Currently, the building is used for storage for the shelter, which moved to a much larger facility a few years ago.
“We’ve discussed it with city staff, but when it gets to the council level, I would certainly be an advocate for her,” Shaw said.
Ottley’s proposed sanctuary is named after a cat that showed up on her doorstep in 2003 and recently died.
Ottley also envisions a place where children can go to educate themselves about animal care and take care of the sanctuary’s residents.
“They need some place they can do to get away from drugs and have something to do, especially in the summer months,” Ottley said. “You know, when you see kids around animals, it’s just fantastic.”
The sanctuary is an expensive undertaking, said Ottley, who estimates that she spends between $20,000 to $25,000 a year on the animals.
“If you keep going back to that, you’re going to be bankrupt,” she said.
Ottley has established a board of directors and hopes to have a website up in the near future.
“Terry was always one of the ones growing up that, whenever she was involved in something, she always gave it her all,” said Herb Watson, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army who is Ottley’s vice president of development. “Just knowing what kind of person she is in her personal life, she’s just the type you want on your team for this.”
Loyd Brumfield is the editor of Best Southwest/Grand Prairie/Oak Cliff neighborsgo and can be reached at 214-977-7686.