Generosity helps shelter dogs rest comfortably

(Top) The frame-construction crew included (front row left to right) Joy Wegner, Bud Wegner and Mera Laureys; (back row) Terry Parrott, Steve Laureys, Bob Shea. (Foreground) Fabric covers were attached to the frames by twenty-three volunteers. Among them were (left to right) Pam Wakefield, Gene Wakefield, Jim Parsons, Jo Parsons, Joy Wegner, Peggy Shea, Vern Reding, Christine Reding and Bud Wegner.

Laurel Parrott

This is a story about how regular people can make a huge difference for a great cause.

When you look after dogs as pets in your home, you make sure they have nice, comfortable beds to sleep on every night, somewhere warm and dry like in outdoor dog kennels, but last spring, SaddleBrooke residents Bud and Joy Wegner learned that dogs at the Pinal County Animal Care and Control (PCACC) Shelter near Casa Grande had to sleep and rest on the hard, cold and sometimes damp concrete floors of their kennels while waiting to be adopted. “We visited the Pinal Shelter in the spring of 2018,” said Bud, “and saw that the majority of dogs there were sleeping every night on a cold concrete floor. At that point, our hearts saddened and we said we had to do something!”

The Wegners initiated a fund-raising project to raise money for elevated beds for the shelter, promising to match the first $1500 in donations. Their generous seed money resulted in 32 additional contributions, for over $4400 in total funds.

So far so good, but that’s not the end of the story. Learning that the need was to deliver durable, raised beds that can be hosed down, are as chew-proof as possible and are relatively compact, the Wegners tried to find the right bed to stretch the donations as far as possible.

Though they found elevated dog beds available on the market, Bud determined that a custom-made bed might be more cost effective, thus stretching the donated funds for a larger quantity of beds. He designed a few prototypes and in May they delivered twenty-two purchased beds as well as four beds made from Bud’s designs to the shelter for testing.

In August, the shelter chose one of Bud’s designs, primarily for its durability, smaller size, breathability and economical cost. It uses PVC pipe and pipe fittings and a commercially-available dog bed cover, all of which are held together with screws. This design will make it possible to most easily repair beds as they wear, using spare parts and thus extending the useful life of the beds.

The generosity of the Wegners and other donors inspired Coolaroo USA, which provided a 75% price reduction for their covers when they learned of the project, and Home Depot on Oracle Road, which provided 10% discounts on the PVC products and screws. The per-bed cost after manufacturer discounts came to just around $19 per bed. Now all that was needed were the people necessary to build the beds.

For several weeks this fall, the Wegners’ garage was an assembly line of saws, drills and screwdrivers as eager volunteers built the frames and applied the covers for 158 new beds which were delivered to PCACC in November.

The Wegners are thrilled with the contributions of the SaddleBrooke community to their project. Says Bud, “The generous people in our community responded to a need in a big way. We experienced the tremendous satisfaction that one gains from seeing the results of funding, caring and committing to a worthwhile cause.” Joy adds, “What a Thanksgiving this was for the dogs at the shelter!”