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"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." ― Anatole France

Betty Jean DeFazio loved animals and she turned love into action as the mainstay of the Maude Schiffley Chapter of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals since 2007. This past week, the animals of Orangeburg and all of its people lost a true friend with the death of DeFazio.

A DAY IN THE LIFE: SPCA's Betty Jean DeFazio passionate about helping animals

She and her late husband, Guy, moved to Orangeburg from Pittsburgh in 2004.

“We decided to get a dog. And I came down here and got my first dog,” she said in a 2018 interview. “And I was hooked.”

She returned to the shelter as a volunteer, covering for employees on their days off or vacation time.

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“So in 2007, when they were looking for someone to work, I applied for the job and got the job and have been here ever since,” DeFazio said.

During that time she cared for thousands of animals.

“There are so many unwanted animals that are just dumped off,” she said. “And there are no bad dogs.

“What people don’t realize is owning a puppy is like having a child. If you were to lock a child in a room and not do anything with it, this child wouldn’t know how to use a fork, wouldn’t know how to use a toilet, wouldn’t know anything."

“And puppies are the same way,” DeFazio said.

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DeFazio loved her job and matching pets with families.

“I never realized how passionate I was about the job that I do,” she said.

That passion led her to stay late after office hours to meet people from out of town wanting to adopt an animal. And she was known to have driven as far as North Carolina and Tennessee to deliver an animal to a new owner.

“It became a passion -- it really, really did,” she said.

Now the SPCA has a challenge of going forward without DeFazio.

President Rodney Tumbleston said, “It’s a big loss. As we had people come and go, she was the stability. You could always count on Betty Jean.”

There will be no way to replace her, Tumbleston said. Getting anyone to do the same job with her commitment and devotion for so little pay will be impossible.

“You don’t come to work for the SPCA to get rich. She did a lot for a little amount of money,” Tumbleston said.

The SPCA president said volunteers will be needed more than ever.

And volunteering to help the SPCA would be a fitting memorial tribute to Betty Jean DeFazio, a woman who “did a lot and didn’t blow her horn about it. She saved thousands of animals.”

To volunteer with the SPCA, call 803-536-3918, email adopt@orangeburgspca.org or visit the organization’s Facebook page.

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