Dog owner gathering animal shelter donations
Northampton resident Kristin Richards wants people to know her dog is not a monster.
Honey is a 15-year-old pit bull mix. She was one of 65 pit bulls chosen to represent the I'm Not A Monster Holiday Drive.
"I'm Not A Monster is an advocacy initiative that aims to dispel myths associated with misunderstood dog breeds, particularly pit bulls," said Richards. "Along with educating the public, the initiative promotes shelter pet adoption and networks animals in need."
Richards, Honey and supporters gathered Nov. 30 at Pet Smart in Bethlehem to accept donations such as toys, food, blankets and other shelter essentials to benefit area shelters including Peaceable Kingdom of Whitehall.
Donations will be accepted until Dec. 21 at drop-off locations throughout the Lehigh Valley such as Affordable Pet Center in Northampton and Jordan Bowling Lanes in Whitehall.
"Our event [Nov. 30] alone collected $3,068 value in food, toys, treats and supplies for the shelter plus an additional $204 in monetary donations. Plus donations are still coming in," said Richards.
Honey was rescued from the New York City Animal Care and Control facility in 2012 moments before she was scheduled to be put down. She has since become an advocate for abandoned senior pets and those with terminal conditions.
Richards originally adopted Honey, who has been diagnosed with mast cell cancer, to provide hospice care to the ailing senior. However, with a second chance at a new lease on life, the dog is now thriving and helping Richards assist animals still waiting for a home.
"Pit bulls are one of the most misunderstood breeds and are often subject to abuse and discrimination in so many ways," said Richards. Getting involved with the shelter drive was one way to provide positive publicity for pit bulls.
What most people know about pit bulls comes from sensational headlines and stories in the media, Richards said. If any other kind of dog bites a person, it won't make the news. But when a pit bull bites, it makes headlines, feeding into the misconception.
"What humans have done to them is appalling and it's our fault that they've ended up with such a bad rap. Therefore, it's our responsibility to make it right," she said.
Honey has become somewhat of a celebrity on the Facebook page she shares with her canine stepbrother Kongo. Richards and Trent Olsen, who own both dogs, hope that the star power can benefit other shelter pets who deserve second chances.
"Pit bulls are some of the most loving, forgiving and, true to their breed, eager to please dogs I've ever met," said Richards.
"There are so many wonderful things I could say about our experience in rescuing Honey, so many ways she has touched and changed our family's lives ... Honey has taught us so much about compassion, hope, second chances and the power of love," said Richards. "She's encouraged us to advocate for other senior shelter pets or those with terminal conditions that deserve a second chance at a loving home. We are truly blessed that she's a part of our lives."