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Kissing Deer and Saving Lives

WARREN COUNTY, Iowa (KCCI-TV) JoAnne Milby used to be a nurse and now she's caretaker of a wild kingdom of animals including a deer that will even give her a kiss.

"Come give me a kiss. Come here," Milby said to the deer.

The deer is one of hundreds of animals on her Warren County farm including 400 cats.

"I have possums, raccoon, skunks, squirrels," said Milby. She also has ducks, goats and a wolf.

It all got started 25 years ago.

"People started dumping and I refuse to take them into a shelter and say 'Here you go' because they're going to get put to sleep," said Milby. "I'm a hospice. I'm a sanctuary."

The animals she has given a home to aren't pretty.

"They're pretty sad is what they are. They've been through a lot," said Milby. "Who would tie a firecracker on a tail of a cat and light it?"

She said she believes the animals have a right to live, but the work is starting to be too much.

"I'm 62 years old, going on 150. I went through chemo. I had cancer. I went through chemo and radiation. I now only have one eye, my left eye. The right eye is completely gone," said Milby.

The cats eat $40 of food per day.

"When you're feeding all these animals, it takes a couple thousand dollars a month," said Milby.

"I told God when I took this challenge on, I said, 'I'm not going to fail you,'" said Milby.

Milby has stopped taking in new strays, but won't give up the ones she has.

"It don't matter what day of the week it is, seven days a week I'm going to do it. The only way I'm going to quit is when they put me in a box," said Milby.

Donors have been helping Joanne pay for all the food, the hay and the vet bills it takes to keep the animals alive.

She said she's barely scraping by so her friends have set up an account at the Great Western Bank in Carlisle, the Joanne Milby Animal Sanctuary Fund, to help.
 
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