Danielle Stewart vividly remembers the day she met Debbie Weldon. She was eating ice cream with her son at a Braum’s in Watauga in 2011, passively watching a pet adoption event take shape a few feet away. Stewart was still relatively new to the pet adoption and rescue world, but she could tell immediately that this wasn’t one of those half-baked affairs on the side of the road.
Everything was organized and decorated, including cute bows on every kennel. And amidst the chaos from families and kids walking up to visit all the cute dogs, cats, kittens, and puppies, this one lady was effortlessly orchestrating the entire thing.
“I couldn’t stop watching her,” Stewart said while referring to Weldon. “I told my son, ‘Wow. This person is a hard worker.’”
Stewart casually walked over and introduced herself to Weldon that day, and they quickly became a joint force in the rescue world in the years that followed. When Stewart started her nonprofit, Apollo Support & Rescue off of FM 407 in Justin, in 2012, Weldon was the first person she asked to be on her three-member board. She considered Weldon every bit a part of their new mission; they both loved on every animal that walked through the door, though Weldon admitted she was always partial to cats.
They put every animal’s needs above their own — often throwing their own money into the cause to keep it going. They tirelessly worked to put Apollo Support & Rescue on the map and swore to set a new standard together until Weldon’s passing in February due to complications from COVID-19.
Fast forward to today, and Stewart and her team at Apollo are doing everything they can to honor Weldon’s legacy. On March 25, they’ll host an adoption event from 10-2 p.m. at PJ’s Coffee in Northlake, with all proceeds going toward constructing a new Debbie Weldon Memorial building that will act as additional shelter for any and all kittens and puppies that come their way.
“Debbie had the biggest heart I’ve ever known,” Stewart said. “You could see it wherever she went, and she always promised me that we would do things differently at Apollo. We had high standards, and this place meant everything to her. So when she passed away, a huge part of what we do was lost. This is our way of honoring her and the legacy she leaves behind.”
Shelly Wilde, Apollo Support & Rescue’s medical lead, agreed.
“March 27 is Debbie’s birthday, and the goal is to have this event and follow it up with multiple fundraisers throughout the year,” Wilde said. “Debbie’s family is coming, so it’s a great way for them to meet the people who have been in her life for the past 10 years. Like anything else, constructing a new building costs money, which is why we are trying to raise money. We want it to be a reality.”
There are no shortages of important causes to support in North Texas. And everyone’s mission at Apollo Support & Rescue is simple: save and love as many animals as possible. What started out as a small house has quickly grown into a facility currently responsible for 390 total rescues and 115 animals on-site in Justin. They operate entirely on donations and the occasional grant. Every penny donated also covers the cost of transporting animals to other parts of the country and providing support to dog owners so that they can keep their pets rather than surrender them. Examples of support include paying for vet bills and buying food.
Stewart started the rescue because there were so many abandoned animals and insufficient resources. And she truly does believe that every dog can have a forever home. The facility is named after a foster dog named Apollo, who was already in desperate need of help at 3 weeks old. No one thought Apollo would make it, but through Stewart’s efforts and the grace of God, he did.
At that moment, Stewart — a 10-year Army Veteran and mother — realized that if she could save one dog, she could save even more.
“We had high expectations. It’s like … go big or go home,” Stewart said with a laugh.
Since then, Apollo Support & Rescue has given so many more dogs and cats a second chance.
“We just always believed that saving Apollo couldn’t have been for nothing, and Debbie was with us every step of the way,” Stewart said. “She used her own personal money to save animals, and she didn’t play favorites. She loved them all. And we loved her.”