Why did you become a Harley’s Hero?
Animals have always been an integral part of my life. In fact, it was my affinity for animals (dogs in particular) that led me to following Harley on Facebook. Through his facebook page and Harley & Teddy to the Rescue, I became aware of the sheer magnitude and cruelty of the puppy mill industry. Harley and Teddy – through their lives, stories of their siblings and the 760 dogs they saved from puppy mills – sparked a fire in me wanting to learn more about puppy mills. This motivated me to become involved with Harley’s Heroes, proudly supporting Harley’s dream to end puppy mills.
I’m a Harley’s Hero simply because dogs deserve better. Puppy mills should not exist! I believe educating the public is paramount in ending the commercial dog breeding (puppy mill) industry. Harley’s Heroes do an amazing job focusing on education, awareness and advocacy which I believe is the missing piece of the puzzle in animal welfare today. I believe that WHEN Harley’s Dream comes true, it will then be possible to have no kill shelters nationwide and no more homeless pets as there would be 75% fewer dogs in shelters and rescues. Harley’s Dream of ending puppy mills is simply the right humane thing to do. As a voice for the voiceless, I’m very proud to be a Harley’s Hero.
Which city/state are you working in as a Harley’s Hero? Which Team are you a member of?
I am the team captain for Harley’s Heroes Valrico, Florida. We are a team of 15+ who participate in various events and activities in our community while distributing our superheroes awareness cards and wearing our Harley/Teddy shirts. We are spreading Harley’s words and dream at every opportunity.
What difference do you feel you are making as a Harley’s Hero?
As Harley’s Heroes, I believe we are spreading awareness about Harley’s dream to end puppy mills through the various community outreach and educational events which we participate in. Our efforts are focused on teaching both the young and ‘young at heart’ alike in an effort to make our entire community aware of the cruel, inhumane treatment of dogs trapped in the commercial dog breeding industry (aka puppy mills). Having spoken at our county commissioners and animal advisory committee meetings, we want everyone to know that this heinous industry, perpetuated by internet sales, pet stores selling puppies, and driven by consumer demand, needs to stop. Our favorite slogan is “Adopt, Don’t Shop!” If someone must purchase an animal, we recommend that they do so through a reputable breeder.
What motivates, inspires you in the fight against puppy mills?
Harley’s life story and the uncanny similarity of it to some of my own pets at the time, was a major inspiration for me to become a Harley’s Hero to aid in the fight against puppy mills. Meeting Harley (and Rudi and Dan) at a meet and greet in Vero Beach, Florida in December 2015 after Harley was named the 2015 American Humane Society Hero Dog of the Year and on the 2014 cover of Modern Dog Magazine were both special events that brought the whole idea of Harley’s Dream home to me. Holding Harley and seeing the love that he had to give to everyone he met after all that he had gone through during the first ten years of his life was such a special moment and reminded me of 2 of my own mill dog survivors. After becoming a Harley’s Hero, my enthusiasm peaked and continues today as I see the enthusiasm and amazing leadership demonstrated not only by Rudi, Dan, Michele and Teddy, but the entire and rapidly growing Harley’s Heroes / Harley’s Dream volunteer family. This charitable organization’s enthusiasm is definitely infectious. Finally, just seeing the faces of the dogs rescued from puppy mills after they have finally reached freedom makes it all worthwhile. I will continue supporting Harley’s Dream until the last cage is opened because dogs really do deserve better.
Do you have future plans as a Harley’s Hero?
Harley’s Heroes Valrico continues to plan educational tabling events at local markets, pet stores, home shows, grand openings, seasonal events like the YMCA trunk or treat, St. Puppy’s Day, and the Easter Egg Hunt with the local Humane Society. We decorate community/dog park bulletin boards, network/collaborate with our local shelter and rescue groups, and speak at public hearings and the Great American Teach-In. We love rocking the area with our painted #LLH Harley Rocks, getting our exercise as Harley’s Dream Walkers and will continue to participate in our largest annual event – The Plant City Strawberry Festival Parade which is viewed annually by 30,000 people! We are always looking for new events, invite everyone we meet to be superheroes against puppy mills, and are diligently distributing Harley’s and Teddy’s awareness cards, flyers and pamphlets throughout our community. Harley’s Heroes Valrico uses many of the support materials developed by Harley’s Dream to educate our community. One of our favorite attractions has been our coloring table with stickers, tattoos, bookmarks, wrist bands, coloring sheets and word puzzles. However, this fall we are very excited to be adding a new feature to our educational table that was showcased at this years Hops and Harley annual dog festival in Berthoud, CO – a PRIZE SPINNING WHEEL! We are planning on introducing it at our local YMCA Fall Festival this October and can’t wait to try it out.
Tell us about your pets!
Once upon a time our family included 2 parakeets, our first dog Nougat (125lb. lab, chow, setter, shepherd mix) who found us in North Carolina, and Coco (50lb. cocker spaniel, lab, poodle mix) who we rescued in Belgium. Nougat traveled the country (Ohio, North Carolina, California), and they both traveled the world (Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands and FL) with us and the US military. Most recently in FL, we have had four rescued Yorkshire Terriers: Kirby, Kayli, Kooper and Kelsie. Kirby was a 10+ yr old stray found in horrible condition as if he had either been very badly neglected, living on the streets for a long time, or perhaps dumped by a back yard breeder. Kayli came to us from a local rescue, and Kooper and Kelsie came to us from puppy mills via local rescues. Sadly, our family has gotten smaller as our sweet mill mom Kelsie unexpectedly crossed the Rainbow Bridge due to an undiagnosed heart defect. Today we only have Kooper who came from a horrible backyard breeder that was closed down by our local county animal control. When they raided the breeder’s property, they seized Kooper and over 100 other dogs living in deplorable conditions. When we got Kooper he was totally withdrawn, skin and bones weighing less than three pounds, debarked, and totally refused to eat. He was very weak and basically had given up on life. After a month of syringe feedings, lots of love and tender loving care from his adoptive siblings at the time, Kooper finally started to eat on his own, gain weight and enjoy his new life. Now 11 years later, at 15+ yrs old, Kooper is enjoying senior life and still “talks” about the day that he and Kelsie met their hero Harley.
Can you offer words of advice to someone who is considering becoming a Harley’s Hero?
For those considering becoming a Harley’s Hero, I don’t have enough words to tell you how personally rewarding it is for me. It is wonderful being surrounded by like minded animal loving friends focused on getting to the root of the problem by putting an end to puppy mills. No matter how big or small your effort, we can all work together to help end this cruel inhumane cycle of abuse, pain and suffering. I feel tremendous support by the 175+ Harley’s Heroes teams across the USA and around the world. It is so nice being a part of something so large yet still so meaningful and personal at the same time. Being a Harley’s Hero allows me to stay in my own comfort zone and go at my own pace. It is very flexible as far as time required and level of commitment. Everyone on my team does as much or as little as they want, as long as we are all part of the solution working towards the same goal – to end puppy mills through education, awareness and advocacy. In fact, preparing for upcoming events often turns into a party (aka meeting) where many wonderful friendships have already evolved. Everyone seems to have their favorite activities they like to participate in, and as Harley and Teddy say “You don’t have to wear a cape to be a Super Hero!” If you don’t already have a team in your area, creating one is simple, fun and guaranteed to be a 100% pawsitive experience!
Do you have a favorite quote?
I try to follow the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” AND “Love Like Harley” – treating everyone with respect, kindness and love.
Learn about Harley’s Heroes here: www.harleysdream.org/harleys-heroes