Harley’s Hero Spotlight – Meet Tina

Tina, standing below the billboard which she raised the funds to produce

Why did you become a Harley’s Hero?
After attending Hops & Harley for the first time in June 2016, and his celebration of life the previous night, I knew I wanted to share his dream of ending puppy mills. I went to Berthoud with my dog, not knowing anyone. I left that weekend feeling connected to people who have the same passion as I did about Harley – it was wonderful. When I saw the launch of the billboard campaign in December 2016, I knew I had to do whatever I could to get one in my city where we have two very popular pet stores that sell puppies.

Which city/state are you working in as a Harley’s Hero?
Omaha, Nebraska

What difference do you feel you are making as a Harley’s Hero?
My hope is by bringing awareness to Harley and his story that people will begin to realize that puppy mills are legal and are very much a thriving business. I’m most proud of the billboard that has been up since mid April. Every time I drive by it, it brings tears to my eyes. I wish there was a way to know how many people have gone to Harley’s Dream website because of seeing it. I also love talking to children; I believe if we can educate the future generation, puppy mills will cease to exist .

What motivates, inspires you in the fight against puppy mills?
Harley and his story inspire me. Whenever I start to feel discouraged and overwhelmed, I reread it and I know I can’t stop sharing #HarleysDream. Also, the videos about Harley and puppy mills in general, and the documentary Dog By Dog, motivate me. I’m not sure how anyone could not be touched by them (and learn so much), and I wish everyone would watch them.

Do you have future plans as a Harley’s Hero?
If so, please tell us about them. It has been a busy spring and summer! We’ve had an info table at three well-attended events. There were also two peaceful protests at pet stores in April and June held in collaboration with other rescue and anti-puppy mill organizations. Next up, in mid September we will have an info table in conjunction with an adoption weekend at a local PetSmart; Muddy Paws Rescue in Omaha has been kind enough to allow us to set up alongside them at their events. I am always brainstorming for ways to share Harley’s Dream and raise money. I love reading everyone’s ideas on Facebook. And, of course, I’ll keep making (and hopefully selling) Harley Sunflower Vases! Please contact me at tmnelson@cox.net if you’d like to buy one (see the photo below). All proceeds go toward Harley’s Dream.

What would you like everyone to know about puppy mills, pet stores and animal welfare laws in your state?
Nebraska has over 100 puppy mills, over 3,000 adult dogs trapped in cages and five of the worst mills in the country. Despite attempts to bring about stronger regulations, and enforcement, and a retail ban of selling puppies in pet stores in the state’s largest city, Omaha, little has changed in recent years. Obviously we are an agricultural state and resistance is strong. Unfortunately we are in an uphill battle with very little support from legislators in Nebraska.

Tell us about your pets!
I adopted my Shih-Tzu Bailey in September 2010 from the Nebraska Humane Society. She is now close to nine years old, but doesn’t act a day over three! She plays fetch like a champ (could challenge any Labrador) and hops likes a bunny when looking for her ball in the grass. So cute! She’s been to Hops and Harley twice; it’s one of her favorite days of the year. She puts up with my foster kittens that always seem to find their way into my home. I’ve come so close to being a “foster failure” with a few of them; it’s hard to say good-bye. But I know if I kept one that my fostering days would be over, so Bailey and I open our hearts and home to them for whatever time they need to find their furever home.

Can you offer words of advice to someone who is considering becoming a Harley’s Hero?
Go for it! The more people willing to speak on behalf of the dogs in cages, the better. Do your research so you will feel comfortable talking to people. And if you don’t know the answer, honestly say “I don’t know.” There’s no shame in that! You can always find the answer later and get back to them. There is great support from Harley’s Heroes across the country cheering everyone on.

Do you have a favorite quote?
Many! One that stands out lately is “One dog, one eye, one mission.”


Learn about our Harley’s Heroes project here: www.harleysdream.org/harleys-heroes

Tina with her girl, Bailey, at Hops and Harley 2017
Educating the public about puppy mills during “Pick a Pooch: in Omaha, Nebraska
Tina crafts these lovely Harley Sunflower Vases as a fundraiser to support the billboard which is currently located in Omaha, Nebraska

11 comments

  1. I just LOVE this.  Thank goodness for people like Tina! My ONLY concern is that people will see the billboard but never think to actually look up Harley’sdream.org.  The billboard is great but I think it should include Adopt…Don’t Shop or boycott pet stores or END Puppy Mills or something VERY clear. I am a huge anti-puppy mill advocate and I’m trying to raise funds to get a billboard too. However, when I first saw “Ask Harley What happened to his eye” motto I didn’t know what it meant. I’m not sure if the average person will go out of their way to figure out what it means and I surely don’t want us to miss anyone.  I think people who are already animals lovers might google what it is about but maybe not the everyday person. I believe we need to reach a really varied market (even those who aren’t the huge dog lovers that we are -but who might still get the message). Kids as well -they might not think to look up what it means but if we say END puppy mills or don’t shop…they will IMMEDIATELY get that, hopefully. Does that make sense?  I like the motto but I do think it should include a very clear “already known” message along with it.  Just a thought….  🙂 Way to go, Tina!! Thanks!

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  2. PS I would LOVE to do an anti-puppy mill booth at our local pet stores.  I just need to collect items in order to do this. :-)Any suggestions on what I’ll need. I did just order your brochures and some bracelets. I also have “adopt of pet” coloring books. Thanks for any suggestions!

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  3. Thanks so much. I love Harley too but live in NJ, too far to attend any functions. I did buy the cards though and put in my church and dog groomers stoor. I think the message on the card would carry more weight if the front looked like the billboard asking “ask Harley what happened to his eye” on it. I will never forget Harley. Wish there were more Harley merchandise to sell like maybe garden flags.

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