A native of Illinois who has also spent some years on the west coast, Marylee Locey has lived in Nashville for over seven years and in that time has set the bar in this community with the love and support she has shown both her neighbors and the “furkids” of our families alike. Most have known Marylee from her tireless devotion to the Hip Donelson Lost & Found Pets group, but she has supported and volunteered with many animal shelters and rescue organizations ever since she was a child. Marylee remembers always having multiple animals in her life. Her first dog, Fritzie, was a retired K-9 shepherd who Marylee describes as her first sibling and remembers they “conquered the world together. He was my protector, my confidant and my partner in crime. He never left my side.” Advocacy for animals has always been part of Marylee’s life and some of her earliest memories are of bringing rescued animals home. She grew up in rural Illinois and remembers always bringing home a friend to fix up and care for. As a teenager wanting to make an even bigger impact in the lives of animals, Marylee saved up enough money to take a trip to Utah to see the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the largest no kill sanctuary in the world. A major aspect of animal advocacy that Marylee learned is that the best way to reduce euthanasia rates at local shelters is to support spay and neutering. She has volunteered for several low cost spay/neuter clinics while attending college. Local Middle Tennessee spay/neuter clinics that Marylee has worked with and encourages everyone to check out are Pet Community Center, Nashville Humane Association’s ROVER and Sumner Spay Neuter Alliance.
Not long after Marylee and family moved to Donelson, Hip Donelson was formed and she became involved in the early days of the community organization’s growth. When someone would post about a lost pet, she would jump in her car and help search. Marylee’s natural ability to connect with pets led to an astonishing success rate in returning pets to their home and the word quickly spread. As the page grew, so did the number of lost pets being reported on the original Hip Donelson page. Marylee approached the Board of Directors about creating a Hip Donelson Lost & Found Pets page and volunteered to manage and lead this initiative. That attracted a number of other animal advocates and Marylee’s leadership has created a team to manage the page and the many administrative and logistical tasks associated with finding and returning a lost pet home or finding a new home. The community came together around this effort that includes a strong partnership with Dr. Doug King and his staff at Elm Hill Veterinary Clinic and also Pampered Pets, a local place for grooming and boarding. There is a bank account set up to care for medical care of pets who don’t have a home until they find foster homes and hopefully a forever-home. To support these efforts and donate to this account, visit the Hip Donelson Lost & Found Pets website.
Marylee was acknowledged for these efforts with a “Caught Being Hip” award and joined the board of directors of Hip Donelson as Secretary. The Hip D Lost & Found Pets group continues their efforts with educating individuals on the importance of keeping collars and tags with current information on their animals. Having identification on the animal drastically increases the chance that every day citizens will stop and help. It also speeds up the reunion process. The group also encourages everyone to microchip their animals in case a collar comes off. The group has two microchip scanners that they utilize on each animal found. Microchips are a small chip placed under the skin by a veterinarian which contain a unique ID. The microchip company manages information online and the group can contact them to retrieve owner information.
Not only has Marylee set the bar for community service on behalf of the four-legged members of our families, she has led by example of great compassion and dedication for all our neighbors, which began at a young age. At 12-years old, Marylee watched her biological father pass away and the X-ray technologist that took his chest x-ray was so kind to her during the ordeal that it inspired a passion that led to a successful career in medical imaging, where she serves patients and makes a big difference in their lives at difficult times.
Around the time Marylee moved to Donelson Hills, she quickly got involved in the neighborhood and was part of the inaugural board for the Donelson Hills Neighborhood Association. Her energy and dedication were a big part of creating a strong foundation. Furthermore, her efforts with Hip Donelson participating in the Metro Police Christmas Charities led to an inaugural award created in her honor, the Hip Donelson Marylee Locey Humanitarian Award. For over 50 years on Christmas Eve morning, Metro Police and volunteers from around Davidson County distribute toys and food to families in need. (This program was started by Donelson neighbor and former MNPD Chief Joe Casey.) I was proud to participate this past year along with a number of volunteers, including Marylee and her family. When they delivered the baskets to the family, they noticed they had no furniture. For the remainder of the day on Christmas Eve, Marylee and family bought and secured donated furniture to bring to this family.
Thank you, Marylee Locey for all that you do! She and her husband Jason have three kids, three dogs and three cats and Donelson is a better community because of their family.