Hand It On: Holly Reynolds

Hand It On: Holly Reynolds

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - This week's Hand It On began at the Goodwood Library during an event called Dog Cancer Awareness Day. Denise Clause was there as was WAFB's Donna Britt.

Denise and Donna began talking. Denise wanted Donna to meet a very special lady that was also in attendance at this event, a lady by the name of Holly Reynolds.

Holly is heavily involved in legislation to support the rights of animals and is a huge community advocate for spay and neuter programs as well as overall animal welfare.

Holly was attending the Dog Cancer Awareness Day event with Denise because Holly quit driving about three years ago. You see, Holly Reynolds is 97 years young and still sharp as a tack.

Holly founded the very first animal shelter in Louisiana in 1959 and is the original founder of what is now CAAWS (the Capital Area Animal Welfare Society). Holly also founded the St. Tammany Humane Society on the North Shore.

Holly is so very much more than just an animal lover. She has been acknowledged with countless humanitarian awards in her 97 years on a local, state, and national level. Awards like The American National Red Cross Overseas Service Certificate signed by President Harry Truman during World War II; the 2014 Corey Tullier Courage Award in recognition of her outstanding commitment to the Greater Baton Rouge Community as a whole; and the Humanitarian of the Century Award by the Humane Society of Louisiana this year just to name a few.

Donna Britt immediately thought of Holly Reynolds as a candidate for WAFB's Hand It On recognition and cash gift. Donna was right; more than right.

Donna and I spoke about it and involved Denise Clause too. It was agreed that Denise would tell Holly we were going to do a story on her and what she thinks the community needs moving forward regarding overall animal and pet welfare.

Denise arranged for our Hand It On team to visit with Holly at her home. (Yes, she is very independent, still lives alone, and until just a few years ago was still driving herself everywhere). So the way it was set up, Holly had no idea this was all a rouse for Hand It On.

The day for our visit had arrived. Donna Britt, Denise, and I arrived at Holly's home with a camera crew in tow. We set up in the living room where Holly was holding her healthy 16 year old rescue, a terrier breed named Ally.

"I had to buy a house because I had a dog," Holly told Donna about her early days in Baton Rouge following a divorce. "I felt like helped me through that divorce. I really was having a difficult time with it and I got Dandy. And I'd never had a dog before and that chanced the whole focus of my life," Holly speaks of her first pet.

"So the word of mouth got started for CAAWS through Smiley?" Donna asked, referring to The Advocate's Smiley Anders. "Tell me about that."

"Well, I was working on a spay neuter program, but my aim in the beginning was to start a humane society. And it so happened that in 1979 Smiley Anders started his column in The Advocate during the first week of June. So in August I called him and asked him to put something in the paper for me – something like Baton Rouge doesn't have a Humane Society and I would like to start one," Holly explains.

"Smiley published my request in his column and I had a great response. Thirty people called me so I set up a meeting at the main library on Goodwood.  And of the thirty, twenty-seven showed up at the meeting," Holly said. "So that was a great, great deal of interest."

Donna continued, "What is the goal of your efforts now?"

"Well, I'd like everyone to be aware there are a lot of things that going on that bothers me greatly and one of those is dogs that are tied up in the yards," the passion beaming from her face. Her voice was strong and precise as she continued. "Another thing is legislation. We have had six bills in the legislature regular session that just finished and I think four of them passed. And then the third thing I guess maybe the most important is to keep people who have fertile dogs from reproduction. This is the only way we're going to stop the over population."

"I want to turn this interview around," Donna told Holly as she began to move to the sofa where Holly was sitting. "I want to give you a Hand It On. Here is three hundred dollars. This is for you; it's for your life's work and what you're still doing for animals and human beings too!"

"Oh, Donna. What a shock," Holly exclaimed. "Well I'll tell you where it's going. I have a foundation, the Holly Frederick Reynolds Foundation supporting animal welfare. So you can put it down in your book that's where it'll go!"

"I'm shocked," Holly told Donna, a slight crack in her voice. "Pleasantly very shocked. I don't know when I've ever held three $100-dollar bills! Thank you so much!"

No, thank you Holly Reynolds.

CLICK HERE learn more about the Holly Frederick Reynolds Foundation and how you can get involved with this incredible organization. 
And to nominate someone for WAFB's Hand It On recognition, send an e-mail to HandItOn@wafb.com. Make sure to include your contact information, especially your phone number.

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