Dog Days

Nixon girl fundraises for local shelter


St. Francis of Assisi is said to be the patron saint of animals. Down in Nixon, he appears to have a helper who is likely a saint herself to the dogs at the Passion for Paws Animal Shelter.

Rylee Alvarez is a young woman of few words, but her actions speak volumes. The past few summers she has decided to spend her free time on the weekends at a custom made lemonade stand in front of her home to raise money for certain projects. The first year, it was to buy tickets to a Shawn Mendes concert. This year, she decided to work for a local cause.

“I like animals,” said the soft-spoken Rylee. Her mother, Michelle Rice, says that the lemonade stand was all her daughter's idea. From the concept to purchasing the hot dogs that she sold on the 4th of July, the young entrepreneur has struck an independent approach to her mission. All the proceeds that she raises will be donated to the shelter.

“My eyes filled with tears and my heart leaped with joy when Rylee’s mother called to tell me what her daughter wanted to do” said Patsy Scherrer, president of the shelter. “Rylee is a sweetheart with a loving heart for animals, and it is a blessing to know that this 11-year-old girl wants to spend her summer fundraising for the animal shelter.”

Scherrer said that a donation in any amount can be a life-saver for an animal. Bluntly, more dollars raised equals more dogs saved. And donated items like food and supplies frees up cash for other areas of the shelter's operation, she said.

The shelter needs a minimum of $16,000 annually to care for an intake of 90-100 dogs. Prices can fluctuate if more puppies are brought in or an animal shows up with an ailment, where treatments can range from $400-1,000 per dog. When unexpected costs arise, Scherrer hits Facebook to get word out and get donations in.

For example, donations go toward dog food, vaccinations, collars, puppy pads, bleach, detergent, treats, spay/neuter costs, transportation of animals, utilities, and whatever usually pops up in the regular maintenance of the shelter.

While chatting with Rylee and her family, another car pulled up with two women that read about the lemonade stand and decided to help. Juliana Hennig made a 45-minute drive to get some drinks and deliver an additional donation to the cause.

“I'm an animal lover,” Hennig said. “When I saw this on Facebook a few nights ago, I thought that was such a neat thing for a child to do. It's hot, and summer, kids are out playing and having fun, and she has decided to do something to give back.”

If you can't make it to the lemonade stand, there are other ways to help and volunteer for the shelter. Scherrer says that volunteers are always needed to transport dogs, either from the vet or to another rescue location. People can also arrange fundraisers or help to educate the public about the importance of spay and neuter programs. And of course, cash donations are always welcome. Scherrer says that checks can be mailed to the shelter at P.O. Box 175, Nixon, Texas 78140, and a note should be affixed stating your intentions to donate to Rylee's fundraiser.

“To have Rylee’s help means another puppy’s life is saved and it can be adopted into a loving home where it will get the love and attention it deserves,” Scherrer said. “Rylee’s donations will help make the puppies lives get off to a healthy start.”

Yesterday, Rylee had a 4th of July special: free hot dog with the purchase of a lemonade. Her father, Franky Alvarez, was in charge of the grilling. Other family members made red, white, and blue cupcakes for the festive occasion. Here's hoping that extra bit of Independence Day enthusiasm translates to some freedom for a dog at Passion for Paws.