You can't blame a dog for being abused. You can't expect them to help themselves.

When it comes to taking care of animals, folks work together and make it happen. Nowhere was this more evident than in Vernon last week, when 12 animal rescue groups from a handful of states arrived to save 87 Great Pyrenees that had been running wild on 35 acres.

At one time, these dogs — or at least their parents — had been well-tended and highly valued. But as their owner — a registered breeder —  fell into poor health, so did her dogs. And by the end of her life earlier this month, many of the dogs had never known a human touch. They were also underweight, filthy and suffering from a range of health problems.

Laurie Hood, who founded Alaqua Animal Refuge outside of Freeport 10 years ago, had been working with the woman trying to convince her to sign over the dogs to the refuge. Instead, the woman left her the animals in her will, and now Hood has her hands full.

Since opening her refuge on the outskirts of Freeport 10 years ago, Hood has put a new face on animal rescue efforts. Though many smaller groups start up and successfully save small numbers of animals each year, Alaqua — with its staff of volunteers and employees — saves large number of animals each year and enables hundreds of others to live out their lives in a world far removed from small concrete pens.

Late last year, Hood announced plans to expand and relocate the refuge, which already feels more like a dog and cat country club than a no-kill shelter.

We have no doubt that the Great Pyrenees rescue will stretch Alaqua's resources, and those of the other rescue groups that have stepped up. Eighty-seven large dogs who have not been housebroken or socialized to interact with humans is a massive undertaking.

But we have confidence that there will be an outpouring of support for these dogs and the humans who are helping them. It's often discussed locally that what folks won't do for their fellow human beings, they will do for animals.

After all, you can't blame a dog for being abused. You can't expect them to help themselves. It's easy to open your heart to helpless animals. And that's exactly what Northwest Florida residents will do.