March 15, 2010 11:45 AM

The only animals Eileen Smulson had ever known were a turtle and a goldfish that she had growing up. Her husband, an animal lover, tried for years to get her to adopt a dog with him, but every time she walked through a shelter, she felt nothing.

Then, five years ago, sudden joblessness in middle age prompted Smulson to adopt a young mixed-terrier poodle named Ginger.

Their first day together, Smulson had an anxiety attack because she had no idea what to do with a dog. Two years later, Smulson and Ginger had gone through agility training, were dancing together and helping children learn to read.

“I had no understanding what an animal could do to your heart and soul,” Smulson tells PEOPLEPets.com. “She changed my life. She rescued me.”

Two years ago, Smulson visited a new multi-million dollar shelter facility in Southern California and saw a need for blankets – puppies were shivering outside in the rain, and Smulson was heartbroken.

Within 24 hours she had begun a project called Operation Blankets of Love, and within a few weeks had collected 300 blankets. The next month, she came back with 3,000 blankets. To date, Operation Blankets of Love has collected 200,000 items for shelters, rescue groups and animal foster care.

“A blanket, bedding, changes the behavior of an animal,” Smulson says. “They’re happier, they feel safe and secure, and those are the animals that are getting adopted.”

She says that thousands of animals have been saved from euthanization thanks to the blankets, but she and Ginger travel around Southern California to help educate children about animal rescue, as well as the importance of spaying and neutering pets.

To donate to Operation Blankets of Love or find out more about what you can do to help, visit Smulson’s Web site.

Click here to become friends with Eileen and Ginger on PEOPLEPets.com!

Meet more members in the PEOPLEPets.com community:
Meet a Member: Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog Helps Save Lives
Meet a Member: Hannah and Marco Live in a World of Silence

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