McElroy says K.C. eventually learned to believe her when she told him, “No one is going to hurt you ever again.” Having dealt with so many cases of animal cruelty, she still cannot comprehend what causes people to be so brutal. “I can only wonder what these men do to their wives and kids,” she says. “Animals have taught me, even wild ones, that their unconditional love is beyond our imagination. They are so forgiving of all the horrible things they’ve experienced.”
McElroy has not opened the sanctuary to the public because “the animals have suffered enough at human hands,” she says. Visiting donors, however, can see animals from the guesthouse.
“My biggest concern is fund-raising,” McElroy says. She hasn’t taken a vacation since opening the sanctuary, and continues to work seven days a week despite her ill health (she has renal disease and sleeps attached to a dialysis machine every night). Her savings were spent on Cedarhill years ago, and donations are down 35 percent since the economic crisis hit. “I stretch every dollar,” she says. “But there are vet bills, utilities, food for the animals, for us. There have been times when I didn’t have payroll for staff. But somehow, we always manage.”