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HILTON HEAD ISLAND -- Paula Thurman has been rescuing animals since she was about 8 years old, when she took in her first helpless animal - an abandoned baby opossum.

Since then, the 55-year-old Ridgeland resident and animal lover has rescued numerous dogs, cats, cows, pigs, birds, horses and even fish. Things got serious for Thurman in 1988, when she heard about racing greyhounds being killed in Jacksonville, Fla., once they stopped winning races.

Thurman said she couldn't just sit back and accept that. Instead, she made several trips to Jacksonville to bring about 14 dogs home, two at a time, and take care of them until someone adopted every one of them. A few years later, she took over as president of the Hilton Head Humane Association's board of directors. But that wasn't all for Thurman. In 1995 she created People Against Cruelty, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing abused and neglected animals.


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