Glenda Taylor DeLawderGlenda Taylor DeLawder of Carter County, Tennessee, loved animals so much that she left local dogs and cats an incredibly generous gift in her will: her substantial estate.

DeLawder, who passed away in November 2015, was described in her obituary as an "avid animal lover," but the recently announced gift gives new meaning to the phrase.

"The gift of $1.2 million was announced on Christmas Day on the Carter County government website. Mayor Leon Humphrey said DeLawder asked that the money be used exclusively to help care for Carter County’s cats and dogs. For one part of the gift, the administrators of her estate bestowed $540,000 to the Elizabethton Carter County Animal Shelter to expand the dog and cat holding areas and to buy a van to transport pets to off-site adoption events and to take them to spay and neuter clinics.

"Carter County and the shelter is truly blessed and honored to be given such a tremendous gift, one of the largest private gifts ever given to the county for our citizens (human, feline and canine)," Humphrey wrote.

Construction is set to begin on the shelter expansion in early January and the van is scheduled to arrive by March 1.

"Mrs. DeLawder’s family asked me to share with you that she loved her cats and dogs so very much and wanted her love and care of them to be her everlasting gift," Humphrey wrote. "I think Mrs. DeLawder would be very pleased that her gift will be able to provide for future cats and dogs at the shelter for as long as the shelter exists."

Mary Jo DiLonardo writes about everything from health to parenting — and anything that helps explain why her dog does what he does.