RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The restaurant business can be tough and time consuming. But a Richmond restaurant owner still finds time to manage a nonprofit aimed at rescuing countless animals in her spare time.
For 29 years, Millie’s has been holding down the fort at the corner of East Main and 26th streets.
Lisa Edwards, one of the owners, still manages to have her hand in more than one pot.
Her second passion is helping animals.
"If there’s a loose animal, I’m usually the first one to go look for it,” she said.
For years she’s been rescuing animals across the city.
“A lot of it is early morning and late at night,” Edwards said. “This morning for example, I was up at 6 to trap a cat, and I trapped three yesterday, so I was at the SPCA at 7:30 a.m. dropping off cats ... then I had to clean myself up to get to work.”
In 2012, that passion evolved into a nonprofit to improve the lives of homeless animals and eventually finding them a home.
“In the last month alone she’s rescued, trapped, and spayed 22 cats that were in an abandoned mobile home park,” said a friend of Edwards’, Grace LeRose. “She rescued probably 10 dogs. She also does work down in Mexico with her foundation The Lost Dog Foundation, and at their last spay and neuter clinic they treated 900 dogs.”
Another friend and business partner, Drew Cahoon got roped in months ago.
“I got involved in the whole operation when she was working to rescue a dog that lived in Forest Hill Park,” he said.
For seven months, day in and day out, Cahoon and Edwards worked to gain the trust of two homeless dogs and now, one of them belongs to Drew. His name is Bruno.
“He’s very loyal to a select group of people," said Cahoon. "We suspect he didn’t have a lot of human contact before we got involved with him so he’s a little leery of people. But he’s super loyal to his family and the people that he knows well.”
That type of dedication is why LeRose and Cahoon wanted to surprise their friend with an Acts of Kindness gift courtesy of NBC12.
“It’s great when people can say thanks, it means a lot," Edwards said. “It’s just very tiring work you know and it’s frustrating, but this is the flip side.”
It’s a labor of love, but she wouldn’t mind if more people in the community served up some kindness of their own, by working with local shelters to care for these animals.
“I would just encourage everybody to get a little more involved,” Edwards said. “If the community comes together we can help a lot more animals.”