Dooley's Dog House owner spent six 'horrible' days in New Orleans rescuing stranded animals
Local artists, galleries and animal lovers are banding together to help save the thousands of homeless animals on the ravaged Gulf Coast. The resulting "Artists for Animals" is an exhibit at Dooley's Dog House and Parklane Gallery that will be showing through November 6. Forty percent of the proceeds from both exhibits will benefit the animal Pasado's Safe Haven, which has been in the trenches since four days after Katrina blew in.
"Pasado has really gone the distance this time," said Parklane artist and animal activist Janet Wold. "On its own, Pasado's is a very worthy cause. We would love all the help we can get." Pasado's Safe Haven, located in Sultan, rescues and rehabilitates dogs, cats and farm animals. According to the Web site, donations are urgently needed for medical supplies, sanitation supplies, hot meals for the rescuers and even air miles so fresh rescuers can be sent. For more information, visit www.pasadosafehaven.org.
Chuck Bartlett of Dooley's Dog House has seen the devastation and animal abandonment firsthand, having spent six days in New Orleans with the Pasado's rescue team in September.
"It was exhilarating and horrible," Bartlett recalls. "We went right into the city and went from house to house. If we saw a sign of a dog or cat, we would make the decision to break into the house [with permission from the National Guard]." Then, with a bit of levity, he adds, "It takes a long time to break into a house. But it's amazing what you can do with a 35-pound crowbar."
The gnarly decision of choosing to save pets over people was a no-brainer for Bartlett. My mother said, 'Shouldn't you be going down there to help the people?' People can make their own decisions, but the animals were trapped and stranded. Hearing how the people had to get on buses and hear 'no, you can't take your dog with you.'"
According to Bartlett, each day 40 to 50 dogs or cats were rescued and brought to a horse ranch in Raceland, LA. (about 60 miles from New Orleans), where they were housed and treated in the stables.
"Every day you try because you go in - where they hadn't left food or water you'd find a dead animal. In the later days, you'd find more and more of them." Amazingly, live animals are still being found (near the end of September), although most are severely dehydrated.
Now the daunting task of reuniting pets with their owners. Bartletts says they've done all right things: taken pictures, documented addresses, left notes that their animal was rescued with phone numbers and contacts.
His hopes are not high for many happy returns. "I just know, seeing the devastation, that a high percentage of people are never going back," says Bartlett. " There will be literally thousands of animals that need a home." On Sept. 26, Pasado's flew in two dozen animals to its sanctuary.
Dooley's show will be running through November 6 and showcasing various types animal-related art. Bartlett says that they currently have more than 50 paintings, will also have metal sculptures and a "hilarious coffee table."
As of this writing, the show hadn't yet begun and Dooley's had already raised more than $2,500. "My employees are passionate - they point to the donation jar," says Bartlett. "For every $500 they raise, I donate $300. I've gotten to do this three times already." He's hoping that the proceeds from the art sale will nudge them close to $10,000.
In addition, on October 13 and 15, Bartlett will donate 25 percent of all sales to Pasado's Safe Haven. As Wold says, "We hope to raise some money and raise people's spirits at the same time. It's all about feeling good."
Dooley's and Parklane are joining together in this venture and will feature everything from decorated dog collars to dog bowls. (Separately, Parklane will also be featuring Deborah O. Parker's "Quiet Moments in the Garden" watercolors.)
"The first day I was back I wore my Pasado rescue team shirt and was standing in the front of the store. Someone called, 'Hey Mr. Pasado, are you taking donations?' This construction guy wrote a check for $250. I was expecting a five dollar bill or something. You can't judge people and their passion for animals."
Dooley's Dog House is at 120 Central Way through October 21, thereafter at 1421 Market St., 822-7075, dooleysdoghouse.com. "Artists for Animals" runs September 23 to November 6. Artist reception October 13, during Art Walk.
Parklane Gallery is at 130 Parklane , 827-1462, Ellen Williams at williams@ parklanegallery.com. "Artists for Animals" runs October 4 to November 6. Artist reception October 13, during Art Walk.
Kirkland Art Walk and opening reception is October 13, 6-9 p.m. at all participating galleries.