Hilleary Bogley

Middleburg Humane Foundation

by Janet Hitchen

If ever there was a person who has devoted their life to the welfare of animals, that would be Hilleary Bogley, the founder and president of the Middleburg Humane Foundation, Hilleary has steadfastly stuck to her dream, which is providing shelter and protection to abused and neglected animals.

“My animals have always been my family,” Bogley says with a smile. As a young child, she was surrounded by family pets. “My mom was a real animal lover and she definitely instilled that love and caring in me as well. Samantha, our German Shepherd, was my very best friend. She saw me through some horrible times. She was always at my side.”

Born in 1963 in Potomac, Md., Bogley sadly lost her dad to a terrible riding accident. Sam Bogley, a master of foxhounds for the Potomac Hunt and a successful real estate businessman, died from horrific injuries he received when his horse stepped in a hole while riding with the Blue Ridge Hunt in Berryville, Virginia. Hilleary Bogley was four years old.

She remembers almost nothing from those early days with her dad, but she is comforted by the stories about his life that she has been told by people close to him.

After her dad died, the young Bogley and her mom, Rose Marie Bogley, moved to Georgetown in D.C. for a year, and Hilleary attended the Holten Arms school. When she was in the eighth grade, they moved to Middleburg, and she attended the Hill School. Shortly after that, she decided she wanted to live with her Uncle Ralph, in Wisconsin, who had become a father figure to her. She lived with him for seven years, and it was there that she started to work on her dream of helping animals in need.

She started by having the school bus drop her off every afternoon at the local animal shelter. Later, when she was old enough, she moved to Denver and enrolled in a program to become a licensed veterinary technician. “I was basically living out of my car with my five dogs! We looked like the Beverly Hillbillies,” she laughed. “The day I graduated, I found a job at the downtown Denver emergency animal clinic. It was called the Alamada East Veterinary Hospital. It was an unbelievable experience. I worked for a wonderful veterinarian named Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, who is now on Animal Planet all the time. I was his first technician, as he had just graduated himself from Colorado State. We saw horrible things on a regular basis. There was terrible intentional cruelty to animals. A night would hardly go by that the police didn’t bring us some poor dog or cat that had been victim of someone’s senseless viciousness.”

Hilleary stayed there for two years. When she wasn’t at the emergency hospital, she was volunteering at the Humane Society in Denver. At this point, she still was thinking that she might go on to vet school. But gradually, she began to realize that her true passion was doing humane work.

Eventually, her dream brought her back to Virginia. As a youngster living in the Middleburg area, she realized there was a need for an animal welfare organization. “People always had the mistaken idea that because it was such a prosperous town with beautiful estates and farms that there was no need for a humane society,” she says. “That couldn’t have been further from the truth!”

Bogley had a plan. She opened an ice cream parlor—and used the proceeds to fund a shelter. She called the shelter Scruffys. She began by starting a program called “Scruffys Strays,” a spay, neuter and foster home project for animals at risk. She covered the walls of Scruffys with photos of dogs and cats in need, and then she posted their stories as they were adopted. Scruffys first day of business was the day of the Christmas parade in Middleburg. Bogley was happy that she actually made $300. “I thought I had a gold mine on my hands” she says. “Unfortunately, that was a huge exception to the rule. I very quickly found out that to actually realize my dream. I would need to find another way to make money.”

She was still living under pretty terrible conditions. “I only cared about keeping my animal family intact,” she says. “I really didn’t care where I lived as long as they were with me. I rented a house in the Plains that hardly ever had running water or electricity. My landlord was Mr. Pickett. He told me I could only have two cats. I actually had 10, but they were all black, so whenever he came around, he always thought he was seeing the same cat over and over again. It was pretty funny!”

Six years passed. Bogley began to realize that although the money was still not there to open her shelter, something else was happening that was important to her cause–she was developing creditability in the community.

“People had begun to see how committed I was,” she recalls. “One spring I went around and took photos of all the signs of the local businesses. I had little pictures made up and took them along with a letter for every business owner telling them of my goal to open a shelter and asking for their support. I realize now what a huge thing it was to have so many people willing to support my dream. I could have never done it without the help of everyone around me.”

In the early 1990s, a fortuitous thing happened. The Loudoun Times Mirror wrote an article about Bogley and Scruffys. “Soon after it ran, an adorable little woman appeared at Scruffys with a passionate mission. She wanted to open an Equine Rescue League,” Bogley says. “I instantly loved her.”

Her name was Pat Rogers. Before long, she, her daughter Cheryl, and Bogley opened the first Equine Rescue League in the country. The Times Mirror gave them a free ad, in which they asked for help from the community. After the ad ran, about 30 people responded, including a lawyer who filed the necessary paperwork to make the operation a legal charitable foundation. The Times Mirror soon gave them another free ad, this time asking anyone with land and barns to house the new facility. After that ad ran, the family that owned Churchland Farm, which is located just outside of Leesburg, Va., leased them a 60-acre farm for $1.00 a year.

Bogley, Bogley’s pets, the Rogers and the Rogers’ four rescued Mustangs moved in.

“I have worked closely with Pat ever since.” Bogley says. “We had to deal with some horrible things, the worst of which was usually policing the local horse auctions. We would get frantic phone calls from horrified people telling us of atrocities, mostly connected to the slaughter industry. Even though there were some laws in place governing the transporting of animals to slaughter houses, absolutely no one enforced them. Again and again we would get reports of horses with broken legs being dragged on to trucks and trampled. I would go there shaking the legal paperwork in the faces of the sale officials and the truck drivers and I would be totally ignored! I began doing undercover work, going to countless auctions and taking pictures of these atrocities. I knew that I couldn’t stop the slaughter, but I was determined to make sure that the laws governing the ethical and humane treatment of animals up to that point were upheld. What I finally did was probably the single most important thing I ever accomplished . I enrolled in a program to become a court appointed humane investigator. I was finally able to enforce all the county and state animal protection laws. It meant I could intervene whenever I saw abuse and neglect.”

Several years passed. Bogley continued to think about creating an animal shelter. Her fundraising barely covered the cost of taking care of the animals in Scruffys Strays. She still did not have a property for a shelter. She then created the Middleburg Humane Foundation and started looking at properties with the help of her three half-sisters and a family friend.

Initially, the search was difficult. The locations were either inappropriate or too expensive. Then a real estate agent casually mentioned a “derelict” place in Marshall,Virginia. It was a property known as the old Millman place. The property had been on the market for some time, and the Millman sisters, both in their 90s, were in a nursing home.

When they first inspected the property, Bogley’s sisters were horrified. It was run down. The floors had buckled. The windows were disintegrated. The property was covered in weeds. The front of the property included an old farm house built at the turn of the century. The back was the oldest four-room log cabin in Facquier County, and the house dated to about 1700. The property had been used as a prisoner of war camp during the Civil War. After some discussion, though, it was decided that Bogley would live in the front part of the property, and the shelter would be in the back. “They loaned me the money to do it,” Bogley says. “But I paid them back with interest.”

The Middleburg Humane Foundation gradually became part of the community. Bogley also worked as a vet tech at the Middleburg Animal Hospital for 18 years to help finance her work. Volunteers such as Jack Love and Janet McKim “were totally supportive from the very beginning and helped [the Foundation] in every aspect,” says Bogley. “They allowed me to house many rescued animals at the clinic and provided wonderful veterinary care for them all. They helped so many people and animals. They always went above and beyond. They were totally generous in every way. They will always be my heroes. It was a sad day for the whole community when they retired and moved away. They are deeply missed.”

During the past 17 years, the foundation has grown to be a busy, successful shelter. The foundation is active in the community, and runs several programs, including a chained-dog assistance project that provides food, straws and new dog houses for dogs that are kept outside on chains. The foundation has a feral cat program. There is also an emergency medical assistance program for families who cannot afford to take care of their animals.

Despite some challenging moments, Bogley carries on. She is assisted by her staff, a shelter manager, a close friend, Kim Zimmerman, and a second licensed veterinary technician. Today, Bogley’s latest goal is to start a low-cost spay and neuter clinic in the community. She hopes to have some local vets help with that project.

Another goal is get some time off. “I’m giving myself 10 years to bring along a new generation of caring and dedicated people,” says Bogley. “I badly need some rest.” She always thanks those people who have helped through years. “It could have never been done without the generosity and kindness of countless friends.”

For information on the Middleburg Humane Foundation and how to volunteer, go to www.MiddleburgHumane.com.