VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) — Walk into Dianne Gargaro's home, and you're going to get a greeting and a once over from her welcoming committee led by Beanie.

Beanie is a mixed breed female Gargaro rescued as a 5-day-old puppy along with her brothers and sisters.

"I saved her from somebody who was getting ready to throw her and her 10 brothers and sisters into a garbage can. They were fixing to throw them away. It took us a week to catch the mama, so they were bottle-fed for a week.

"I found all of them homes and I know where most of them still are; and I'm in contact with most of the owners."

Beanie is one of an untold number of dogs Gargaro has taken into her home over the years, cared for, helped and in some cases, placed with good owners.

Rescuing and helping animals, she said, "Is not an obsession, but it is a passion."

And it began with her childhood.

"I've always loved animals," she said. "At one point in my life I wanted to be a veterinarian, but at the time, I was young enough to think that was too long a time to spend in college so I just gave that up.

"It's something I've been attracted to. My father used tell me, even when I was a baby, that if there was a dog or a cat I ran right up to them, so I just can't walk away from an animal that's hurt or hungry, or looks like it needs help. Most of my childhood we had a dog or a cat.

"I've always loved animals, so I've always picked them up on the side of the road, but it was usually for me to keep. I didn't know anything about any kind of networks for animals or finding new homes for them or anything like that until I got together with PAWS Rescue and found out there are so many people trying to save animals that have been thrown away."

She became familiar with PAWS when she moved to Vicksburg in 2006 after retiring as a registered nurse because of a disability.

She worked with PAWS for four years before deciding to rescue and foster animals on her own.

"I rescue and foster without any kind of affiliation with anybody. It's just on my own," Gargaro said.

"I depend on my friends' donations to get by. 'I get by with a little help from my friends,' that's my motto."

But there is one problem Gargaro has that is unrelated to her animals but just as important.

She has a hole in her roof that she is unable to afford to repair.

"I've had the problem for seven years. I guess it's one of the problems that comes with having a flat roof, and I guess I should have had the whole roof redone instead of just that hole."

Moisture from the leak has stained a section of the ceiling in her home's living room, and it is now covered with plastic to keep out the cold.

"I've started a GoFundMe account, but I haven't received too much response," she said. "I have someone who will fix the roof, but I have to come up with $5,000 for the supplies."

Gargaro said she plans to keep adopting animals until she physically can no longer do it.

"I've gotten to the point just this year where I can't take any more big animals because my back won't let me do it anymore," she said.

"I'm surrounded by friends, and I really feel lucky I'm able to do what I do.

"The animals, they're very sweet, I love them all, but I can't keep them all. If I do, then there's no room for the next one that needs me."

She also feeds and offers shelter to stray cats and tries to get them fixed.

Gargaro's home is populated by a mix of her personal pets and animals she has either gotten from the city of Vicksburg's animal shelter or were brought to her. All of her personal pets, she said, are rescues like Beanie.

Living in a home with the animals, she said, "Is never lonely. It's never quiet unless their asleep, but it makes me feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing."

When Gargaro adopts animals from the city's animal shelter, she tries to find homes for them, adding she usually adopts about four animals a year.

"Usually when I adopt from the pound, it's the small ones, the ones that are pregnant, or puppies — the ones that are at risk," she said.

She also has an out-of-state rescue partner with Compassionate Animal Rescue Efforts of Duchess County in Wappinger Falls, N.Y.

"I send most of the animals to them, and they get them fixed, shots, ID microchips and adopt them out there."

Most of the time, Gargaro said, she is very comfortable having all the animals around her home.

If she has a bad day, "I just leave the house for an hour and drive around and do my grocery shopping and whatever.

"If it's a nice day, I set up a little portable pen outside and let them get out in the sunshine, but mostly they don't bother me."

She said a lot of people visit her because they're interested in the puppies she keeps.

"I get a lot of donations of food and supplies and get money for vet care. I have a rescue account at Woodland (animal clinic), and people donate to that account to help me take care of them. I think it makes people feel like they're involved in rescue, when they can't physically take the puppies, it helps them feel like they're doing something."

To help Gargaro with her roof repairs visit