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Shannon Bodin

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04/01/2011 - By Gayle Irwin

Shannon Bodin has felt an affinity for animals since she was a child. Born in Casper and raised on a farm in North Dakota, she has been surrounded by wildlife, pets, and livestock throughout her life. When Shannon was two years old and riding in the family car, they passed a deer that had been hit and lay alongside the road.

"Mom says I cried," Shannon recounted recently.

Although an appreciator of animals, Shannon's work life after college began with a North Dakota electric cooperative. She worked there less than a year when a car accident resulted in major back and neck injuries. Stopped at a stop sign, Shannon had her head turned to the right, looking for traffic, and didn't notice the pickup barreling down on her from behind. "The driver of the truck must not have realized a stop sign was ahead," Shannon said. The vehicle, going 40 to 50 miles per hour, struck hers. Shannon was also in a pickup truck, but that was not the norm for her to drive to work. She usually drove a small car.

"It was a miracle; God was watching out for me that day," Shannon said.

At first Shannon didn't realize she had been hit from behind; instead, she thought the truck had jumped out of gear. This was in the days before cell phones, and the only way to get in touch with law enforcement was to drive back into town, so she and the other driver did so. Shannon said her neck began to hurt a bit, but she didn't think much of it, and on to work she went. However, as time passed, her head and neck began to ache with increasing severity, and her mother, a nurse, instructed her to get to a doctor immediately. Shannon ended up with soft tissue and nerve damage in her neck and torn muscles in her back.

She attempted to return to work, but nine months after the accident, she couldn't endure the pain.

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"It just got worse and worse," she said.

She ended up on disability. One year after the accident, Shannon's husband filed for divorce, and Shannon moved to Casper where her parents were living.

Six years after her first accident, Shannon experienced another rear-end collision, exacerbating the first injury. She now takes pain medications and muscle relaxants to help with the suffering she still endures.

She began pet-sitting for friends and neighbors, and through word of mouth, a small business blossomed. She sees her enterprise as "a hobby", because she can and does turn down opportunities if her back spasms and neck pains become too much to handle. However, she takes care of pets whenever she feels able and has cared for a menagerie of creatures, including sugar gliders, alpacas, horses, and ducks, in addition to the traditional cats and dogs. And, she rescues four-leggeds in need of help. If she sees a dog wandering the streets and it doesn't have identification tags, she will put it in her car and drive around the neighborhood, knocking on doors, looking for the owner. If she finds a lost pet with ID tags, she contacts the owner and returns the pet.

"I keep blankets, a kennel, treats and water in my car," Shannon said. "I've always had a soft place for animals."

Stray cats seem to seek out Shannon at the home she shares with her parents. She takes the sick ones to a vet and finds homes for those in need.

"Mom and Dad's house becomes a foster home fairly often," she added with a smile.

One cat didn't stay with its new owner and returned to Shannon's door. That little guy now shares the house with Shannon and her parents."He's a grateful stray," Shannon said.

Shannon believes that the challenges in her life have helped bring her closer to

God. "I've gotten through all of this because of God and my family." she said.

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