11-28-20 Flag for Fido.jpg

Shelli Parker/Staff

Henderson County animal control officers, John Day and the staff of Athens Animal Rescue Shelter pose with the flag flown over the Texas Capital.

A long-time Brownsboro firefighter John Day wanted to do something for the community he served and has helped him so much in return. With some help from former Athens Councilmen Ed McCain, Day will have three United States flags flown over the Capital Building in Austin, to present to three local places dear to his heart.

Athens Animal Rescue Shelter, Brownsboro Fire Department and Athens Police Department will all receive one of the special flags.

“I don’t know how much longer I have to go,” Day said. “I just want to do everything right before I go so the good Lord has the electric gate opener ready for me.”

Day, who is terminally ill, was having a hard time caring for his furry companions from his wheel chair. Upon hearing this, the ladies at AARS sprung into action and have been helping him during these difficult times with simple things such as accessibility issues.

“I had to quit rescuing people, now I rescue animals,” Day said. “In a wheelchair I can no longer run the roads in a firetruck.”

Day was a firefighter for 43 years before he had to hang up his boots, and whether you ask him or not, he will tell you his most critical piece of fire safety: “Put a fire extinguisher next to your bed!”

“If there is a fire at night, you need to be able to make a path to an exit,” he said.

Day jokes that he has nine dogs and that he makes 10. His admiration for the AARS staff, and their hard work, runs deep.

“We are trying to place all of the animals in a decent home,” he said. “If they want to fly the flag, they can, if they want to use it for funding they can.”

He says the goal is to help AARS animals find loving forever homes and honor the ladies who have been so good to him. They are free to use the flag however they wish.

“As many problems as we have, this is still the best country in the world,” Day said. “I’ve been to many.”

The shelter takes in thousands of animals each year and has a remarkable success rate at homing them through multiple efforts and a lot of hard work from volunteers.

“We have established a relationship with him,” said Jennifer Miller, AARS director of operations. “He is a very good hearted man, he has touched a lot of our hearts up here with his feisty personality. He has taught us to live each day to the fullest."

The staff has gotten used to hearing from him daily. Once when a couple days passed with no contact, they drove out to check on him. He was lounging on the front porch with his phone turned off.

At first, Day is a spicy character, full of blunt statements and stories, but once you get to know him he grows on you. Miller said he will send photos of him lounging on the couch with his dogs, and has a real heart for his animals. The dogs adore him.

If you would like to donate to AARS or adopt an animal, please visit the Athens Animal Rescue Shelter Facebook page. You can also email them at info@athensanimalrescue.com or call 903- 292-1287.

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