Sally Burky, a devoted animal lover, advocate, and volunteer residing in Ozark, Missouri, had always envisioned her wedding day to be special, and not just for her and her husband-to-be, but for her furry friends as well.
Sally, who has a deep connection with animals, was keen on making her big day memorable by integrating her love for canines into the ceremony.
One day, as Sally was exploring ideas on Pinterest, a unique trend caught her attention – bridesmaids holding puppies instead of traditional flower bouquets.
This sparked an exciting idea in her mind, “How neat would it be to have animals that need homes instead of ours?”
Sally pondered. Eager to bring this idea to life, she shared it with her then-fiancé, who was completely on board with this heartwarming concept.
Reaching Out to Haven of the Ozarks
The couple decided to reach out to Haven of the Ozarks Animal Sanctuary, located in Washburn, Missouri.
This shelter held a special place in Sally’s heart, as she had spent numerous hours there, volunteering and donating.
Sally expressed her desire to involve not just puppies, but adolescent and senior dogs as well, with the hope of raising awareness about adoption and finding these lovely canines their forever homes.
The team at Haven of the Ozarks was overjoyed with the idea and more than willing to assist Sally in shining a light on these shelter dogs in need of loving families.
Selecting the Special Guests
With around 110 dogs under their care, Sherah Farris, the director of the no-kill shelter, had a challenging task ahead.
She patiently waited until a week before the wedding to select the dogs that would be participating in the ceremony.
Sherah carefully chose canines that she believed could manage the stress of a new environment and interact peacefully with other dogs and strangers.
“We have about 110 dogs at any given time, so I waited until about seven days before (the wedding) and I picked dogs I knew could handle the stress of the new environment and can handle being around other dogs and strangers,” she explained to Today.
A Dream Realized on the Wedding Day
Sally’s compassion for animals has always been a significant part of her life.
“It was after I rescued a pit bull puppy, that we started dating. He treated him so well, and that’s when I knew, he was the one (…) Since we’ve been together we have always fostered, taken in rescues, and spread the word of adoption,” Sally shared, reminiscing about the start of her relationship and the role animals played in it.
May 11, the day of the wedding, finally arrived, and the dogs were transported to Ozark, ready to take their place as the stars of the show.
“It was incredible. I was already emotional, but seeing the dogs being unloaded, I just couldn’t hold back the tears,” Sally admitted, overwhelmed with joy and emotion.
Each bridesmaid, paired with a groomsman, gracefully walked a shelter dog down the aisle, each canine adorned with a leash, ready for their moment in the spotlight.
Although Sally didn’t witness this beautiful moment firsthand, as she was preparing for her own walk down the aisle, she later saw the joyful reactions in the wedding video, noting that “The fact they were rescue dogs really hit a spot with people,” she told Today.
A Gift of Love and Support
In addition to including these adorable canines in their ceremony, Sally and her husband decided to collect donations for Haven of the Ozarks Animal Sanctuary.
The funds raised were earmarked for a very special cause. Jennifer Silverberg, a representative from the sanctuary, shared with People, “We plan to use the donations they give us to go towards the fund for a new mobile adoption van. Ours is on its last leg and it is vital for getting our dogs and cats out to larger cities for mobile adoption events every weekend to give them a better chance at finding homes!”
Sally was overjoyed at the opportunity to have these furry friends be a part of her wedding celebration.
She had hoped that maybe, just maybe, one of them would find a forever home.
To her astonishment and delight, each and every dog that participated in her wedding quickly found their loving families.
Raising Their Voices for the Voiceless
“Animals don’t have a voice, but we do. By having them in our wedding, I wanted to share my compassion and show how important it is for us to be their voice. They count on us,” Sally passionately expressed.
Her innovative wedding idea swiftly garnered attention, eventually going viral and resulting in a wave of donations to the shelter from all corners of the country.
It was a heartwarming display of kindness and support for animals in need – precisely what Sally had hoped to inspire.
Making a Difference, One Adoption at a Time
Sally’s wedding was more than just a celebration of love between two people; it was a celebration of compassion, kindness, and the joy of giving back.
If Sally’s story has touched your heart and you are considering bringing a furry friend into your life, remember, there are numerous dogs and cats in shelters like Haven of the Ozarks Animal Sanctuary, all waiting for someone to give them a chance at a happy, love-filled life.
So, take a leap of love and consider adopting from your local shelter, and you might just find your new best friend waiting for you.