Tonawanda News

The Town

June 19, 2013

Something to bark about

Dog Days of Kenmore a growing tradition


Tonawanda News — “Every rescue has different dogs and different specialties,” she said. “We’re Silver Lining for Pit Bulls, but we are all breeds. A lot of people don’t really realize that, but then they see us at a community event with maybe a smaller dog.”

One of the groups isn’t precisely a rescue organization, although its goal is ultimately to save pets’ lives. Hope Before Heaven was started in January by Linda and Gary Hepler in honor of their sheltie, Aasha, who died after the Heplers rushed her to an emergency animal hospital for treatment when she suddenly became ill.

Aasha’s death was traumatic, but what they witnessed while waiting for her medical tests broke their hearts even further, Linda Hepler said.   

“We were in the waiting room and a couple people came in,” she said. “They had to have their animals euthanized because they didn’t even have money for their surgery ... not even for a down payment.

“It just made me so mad ... and I said, ‘I’m going to do something about that.’ “

Hope Before Heaven aims to pay for emergency medical care for companion animals throughout the Western New York area, in cases where the animal would have to be euthanized if the owner couldn’t afford care. So far, the all-volunteer non-profit group has helped save a cat by funding a tooth extraction, and Hepler has more plans: She is seeking a corporate sponsor and visiting about 40 different events this summer to get the word out.

It’s all in the memory of Aasha ... whose name meant “hope.”

“We’re trying to keep them in the their homes, with the owners that love them,” Hepler said. “We will help anyone that we can help.”

IF YOU GO • WHAT: Dog Days of Kenmore • WHEN: Noon to 4 p.m. Sunday • WHERE: Mang Park, Mang and Elmwood avenues, Kenmore. • FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit

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