BISMARCK (KX News) — KX News will be honoring Remarkable Women throughout western North Dakota in February and March. We received more than 60 nominations from you, our viewers, of incredible women making a difference in our local communities.
From that group, four women have been chosen as semi-finalists to be the KX News Remarkable Woman. The final winner will receive an all-expense-paid trip to New York, and they will be in the running for Nexstar’s nationwide 2020 Woman of the Year.
Our first semi-finalist is someone you’ve seen often over the years and has had a big impact on our furry friends.
Julie Schirado has loved animals all her life.
“I was bringing animals home when my mother told me not to,” Schirado said.
In 2015, she wanted to make it her mission to help reduce the number of animals being euthanized when area animal impounds fill up. After asking family for help and trying to do as much as she could, Schirado felt like she needed to take the next step and thought, “‘We need to start a rescue.’ And so, we found someone to help us do the paperwork on a 501-c3 and Voila! We average 1,500 animals a year that go through our fosters, our facility or down the road to other rescues,” Schirado said.
As much time as she dedicates to Furry Friends, Schirado has a full-time marketing job, but that’s not all.
“I have a brother that’s battling West Nile Virus and a mother with early-onset dementia and Parkinson’s [Disease] and then another sister that’s been in a coma for almost 30 years. So, it’s full-time between family and the animals and the day job,” Schirado said.
One would think Schirado would have the temptation to despair. Though she admitted some days are tougher than others, all her selfless work and energy keep her motivated.
“Sometimes, the best drug is to walk in and help something that can’t help itself. And when I go home at night, I sleep well,” Schirado said.
Terri Woo, herself a volunteer at Furry Friends who also works a full-time job on top of being a mother, said Schirado’s energy and passion are infectious and moving.
“I have family who’s sick and we’ve endured for many years. So, to see her go through her daily struggles, but to be able to put herself out on a limb every day, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Woo said.
Schirado said she can only do so much. She is so grateful for the 150 or so volunteers and so many generous members of the community. And because of her efforts, along with all the support Furry Friends receives, animals who may not understand why they are there know they are there and are being loved by those who share their love.
To give you an idea of the kind of bills they have, Furry Friends Vet bills last year totaled near $170,000. If you’d like to donate, click here.