Volunteer Pays It Forward to crisis response leader who helps save pets left behind

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Fellow volunteer Robert Estep has seen how devoted Audra Colson is, helping place more than 50 pets since last year, so he reached out to CBS 5 to Pay it Forward to the woman keeping dogs and cats happy. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Fellow volunteer Robert Estep has seen how devoted Audra Colson is, helping place more than 50 pets since last year, so he reached out to CBS 5 to Pay it Forward to the woman keeping dogs and cats happy. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5)Audra Colson has been a volunteer with the Surprise Fire Department's crisis response team for six years and saw the need for helping pets left to fend for themselves. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)Audra Colson has been a volunteer with the Surprise Fire Department's crisis response team for six years and saw the need for helping pets left to fend for themselves.
(3TV/CBS 5) -

Lady is a cute cocker spaniel whose owner died suddenly, leaving her all alone.

Rocky is a 3-year-old Chihuahua who was found with 30 other animals in a hoarder's house.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Pay It Forward]

The pups are among the many pets left abandoned in the West Valley each year, following a major crisis at their home or with their owner.

"We found that we would go on calls, whether it was a house fire or family displaced and the animal or owner has passed away," said Surprise fire Capt. Renee Hamblin.

"There was nowhere for these animals to go. There was no shelter to take them to and there was no place to take them."

Audra Colson has been a volunteer with the Surprise Fire Department's crisis response team for six years and saw the need for helping pets left to fend for themselves.

Colson helped create the Chance Shelter of Surprise, the Valley's first program devoted to finding foster and permanent homes for displaced pets from a recent crisis.

"The joy that it brings other people who adopt them, and the joy it brings her when she gets to live out her life in a new forever home. That's what it's all about," said Colson.

Fellow volunteer Robert Estep has seen how devoted Colson is, helping place more than 50 pets since last year, so he reached out to CBS 5 to Pay It Forward to the woman keeping dogs and cats happy.

"She is putting in hundreds of hours of her own time," said Estep. "She's put in a tremendous amount of her own money with her husband to get this shelter started to help animals in need."

Estep and a group of volunteers and firefighters surprised Colson this week and presented her with $500.

"With the time you spent with response team in last six years, and all the time you dedicated to that," said Estep. "The amount of time and dedication you've put into this, we just wanted to let you know that you are really appreciated. On behalf of all of us and Channel 5, we'd like to present you with $500." 

"This is what it's all about," said Colson.

Colson is currently working with the City of Surprise to raise money to try and build a permanent pet shelter for animals in crisis.

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