One to Watch: Laurie Hood

Laurie HoodHero for the Underdog

By Lori Hutzler Eckert 

Laurie Hood believes in living her life with purpose – and her purpose is saving the lives of countless abused and neglected animals in Walton County.

When Hood, 41, realized that the county had no animal welfare shelter, but that the local animal control service picked up hundreds of animals per month, she and her husband, Taylor, transformed 10 acres of their private property into a state-of-the-art facility.

A little more than a year later, Hood has saved more than 700 animals’ lives, but her mission continues to grow. The mother of two boys, ages 2 and 3, recently stood before the Walton
County Commission, requesting to serve as the county’s animal control contractor. The commissioners quickly and unanimously accepted Hood’s proposal, providing the area’s first no-kill animal shelter.

Hood hopes to expand Alaqua Animal Refuge, which is home to more than 150 animals at any given time, and has plans to evolve the refuge into a model – a place she says “the county can be proud of” – for other areas looking to end the needless killing of so many animals.

Hood says the emotional investment is exhausting, and she is in need of funding to move forward, but creating Alaqua has given her a certain peace of mind.

“I have this deep knowing that I am doing what God wants me to do,” she says. “It is very exciting to me that I know 150 percent that this is what I am supposed to be doing with my life.”

For more information on Alaqua Animal Refuge, call (850) 880-6399 or visit