Supporter of animal rescue passes on Christmas Day

Unity Thrift Animal Rescue lost one of its best friends and biggest supporters with the passing of Andy Hodges.

Hodges, the husband of the group's founder, Trixie Hodges, passed away Christmas morning, surrounded by loved ones singing "Amazing Grace."

Andy and Trixie, along with the other members of the group, have saved the lives of countless dogs and enriched the lives of their new owners.

He was known for his generosity outside of Unity Thrift as well.

"If anyone needed anything, it didn't matter who you were," said friend Suzi Baker.

"If there was a need, he helped us out with our organization," Trixie said.

Andy opened his heart and his wallet to Unity Thrift, providing hundreds of dollars each month for the nonprofit, all-volunteer groups.

His credit card funded the gas for hundreds of travel miles each month for trips to no-kill shelters around the state, for food, both to the people fostering dogs and to the Taft Animal Shelter and for veterinary exams to make sure the animals were properly vetted for adoption.

His last trip was on Dec. 5 to Los Angeles International Airport to drop off a dog to be flown to an autistic child in Connecticut.

Even though he was very ill, he wanted to make the drive, Trixie said.

"He cared a lot about things like that. It made him feel better to do something that was helping people," she said.

Without his financial support, said Suzi and Trixie, Unity Thrift is facing some major financial obstacles to continue to rescue unwanted pets.

"We'll never be able to do what we were able to do," Trixie said. "I just hope the community steps up. He would have wanted that."

In lieu of flowers, people are asked to donate to Unity Thrift, 217 East San Emidio St. Taft, CA 93268.

A memorial service will be held at noon on January 7 at Westside Believers Fellowship.