When 83-year-old Velma Bennett was murdered outside her Bluejacket home Wednesday, her children not only lost their mother but the stray pets she took in as her own were left with no one to care for them.
Crime tape is still draped across her property, marking where Bennett was murdered. Investigators said she was beaten to death by two people she had let stay on her property temporarily.
Chelsea Raulston and Charlee Adams were arrested.
“She couldn't say no, even to people, that's why she took that couple in. She just had a soft heart,” Bennett’s daughter, Kathy Walker said.
Bennett was a mother of four, she had grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren, but she lived alone in rural Craig County.
So when her kids and grandkids weren't around, she had her dogs and cats.
“They were her family,” Walker said.
Because Bennett lived in the country, animals would often times be dumped near her property. Her daughter said Velma never turned a stray away, which is how her animal family grew from one to more than 20 pets.
“I didn't realize how many, but she just accumulated one dog at a time,” Walker said.
Bennett vaccinated the animals herself and mowed yards to buy their food.
“She would do without herself in order to make sure the animals, or a person, if she seen that they needed help, she would do without herself to take care of them,” Walker said. “God has got have a special place for a person like her. I'd like to think there is an animal heaven and mom is right in the middle of them.”
With her mother gone, Walker didn’t know what she was going to do. They family couldn’t take care of the animals, so the Peaceful Animal Adoption Center stepped to rescue the animals Bennett had so thoughtfully rescued over the years.
“I don't know what we would have done had it not been for Peaceful Animal Adoption. They really saved us,” Walker said.
PAAS is a new non-profit no-kill animal rescue out of Vinita.
“It was built to help all the homeless animals in this area and surrounding areas,” PAAS Veterinarian Technician Rhonda Norris said.
Since the rescue was founded in April, Norris said it has saved more animals than she can count, and adding Velma's to that list is an honor.
“With the tragedy that happened, at least maybe something good could come out of it,” Norris said. “We admire her for what she did, and what she did for the strays and homeless animals in her area.”
All of the animals rescued will get full exams, they will be vaccinated, spayed and neutered and then they will be ready for adoption.
To find out how you can adopt or donate to PAAS you can visit its website.