Benefit Saturday to fund DeSoto shelter
One man's dream of opening a new animal shelter in DeSoto is picking up momentum.
Bob Allison began his quest for a new shelter several months ago after he opened his newspaper and fell in love. He said the object of his affection had four legs and a bad haircut.
"There was an article in the paper about the dog shelter here in town and a picture of (animal control officer) Anne Davis," he said. "One of the dogs in the picture looked just like a dog I used to have that has since died. I just felt like crying."
Allison called Davis the following day and went to see the dog face to face.
"I walked around the corner and it was like my dog was sitting there. She even had the same characteristics as my old dog," he said.
Knowing his wife wouldn't be thrilled with the idea of bringing a new pet home, Allison said, he "tricked" her into going to the shelter to take a look at the dog. It didn't take her long to figure out what her husband was up to.
"I took her out to eat at the Kill Creek Pub first and I was going to break it to her there. After a few minutes, she said, 'This is about a dog, isn't it,'" Allison said. "Then she just broke down crying."
He took his wife to meet the dog and she too fell in love, he said. They decided not to adopt the dog at that time, however, because they did not have a fenced yard.
"We bought dog food for her and took her down to get her haircut. She just looked awful when we first saw her," he said.
A few weeks later, the dog was transferred to the Lawrence Humane Society and Allison hoped she would find a good home. She soon did.
"I finally made so many promises to my wife that she agreed to adopt her," he said. "In July, she let me adopt her for my birthday."
Allison said he was shocked to find out that DeSoto had an animal shelter and then disheartened to learn it was so small.
"I don't think many people even knew it was there before the story in the paper," he said. "And it just broke my heart to see how small it was and how few animals it could accommodate. Anne (Davis) does such a wonderful job there. You wouldn't believe how many hours she puts in taking care of those animals. But she needs a larger place so we don't have to put so many animals down."
Allison took his plea for help to the DeSoto Chamber of Commerce. During a monthly meeting, he urged his fellow chamber members to donate cat and dog food to the shelter.
Soon after, Allison got a phone call from a local businessman, Dick Brazukas, and a letter from artist Joan Silver.
"Dick said he would help me raise money to build a bigger shelter," he said. "Then Joan wrote me a letter and offered to set up a booth at the Watermelon Festival to sell her artwork. She offered to give half of the proceeds to the shelter fund."
Community involvement grew from there, Allison said.
"Then Denny (Hougham) of Doc and Bruties offered to help," he said. "Those guys deserve a lot of credit. They do so much for this community."
Brazukas offered to supply the beer and Hougham agreed to provide the pizza and barbecue for a fundraising event this Saturday at Doc and Bruties, Allison said. The buffet-style meal will be from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. and will be $10 for adults and $6 for children under 10-years-old, he explained. All proceeds will benefit the shelter fund.
Allison said the group hopes to raise enough money to construct a small building with room for about six dog runs and an exercise yard.
"We've been told there is no room in the city budget to even buy the land, so we hope someone will come forward and donate a small piece of landfor the project," Allison said.
A timeline for the project has not yet been determined, he said.
"We're in the very early planning stages right now," Allison said. "We don't know how much it will all cost. That's something we're still checking on, but we'll get it built as soon as we can."