CASA GRANDE — When Shelley Pooler started volunteering as a dog-walker at the Valley Humane Society a few months ago, her goal was to find solace and peace after losing her beloved dog of 10 years, Tatum.
As a volunteer, she quickly became aware of the needs at the shelter and wanted to help improve the lives of dogs and cats that wind up at the shelter.
With Tatum as her inspiration, she started an organization, Girl With A Black Dog, selling pet-theme T-shirts and clothing to raise money for VHS and other animal shelters.
“My dream has always been to find a way to give back and save shelter pets,” Pooler said. “My dog Tatum’s legacy lives on through Girl with a Black Dog but it’s also a way to give hope, love and second chances to homeless pets.”
Girl With A Black Dog theme items are sold on Pooler’s Facebook and Instagram pages as well as various pop-up and community events.
Since starting the organization in September, Pooler has raised several hundred dollars as well as food and supplies for area animal shelters.
“I hope to grow Girl With A Black Dog and down the road do more to help,” Pooler said.
Starting the organization helped her as she worked through the grieving process after losing Tatum, she said.
Pooler had adopted Tatum, a black lab mix, from a Kansas shelter as a puppy.
“In his short life, he had been dumped at the shelter twice,” Pooler said. “Dogs and cats end up in shelters when people fail them. There’s nothing wrong with the animal but I couldn’t imagine what he must have felt.”
When she saw him in the shelter, Pooler said the dog chose her.
“I was in the room with him and he walked over and picked up a leash and brought it to me,” Pooler said.
Pooler and Tatum formed a bond and were together 10 and a half years before the dog died of bone cancer last March.
“I would always take him for walks and people would refer to me as ‘that girl with a black dog,’” Pooler said. “I began volunteering at the Valley Humane Society and realized right away that the needs were huge. The Valley Humane Society is an awesome organization, and I love that they are a no-kill shelter.”
When she started Girl With a Black Dog, Pooler chose Tatum’s profile as the organization logo.
Every item sold by Girl With A Black Dog includes a message aimed at inspiring others to give shelter dogs a chance.
“Thank you for supporting Girl With A Black Dog,” the message on the clothing says. “My dream has always been to find a way to give back and save shelter pets. Girl With A Black Dog’s mission allows my beloved Tatum’s legacy to live on while giving hope, love and second chances to homeless animals because he was one once too. My hope is you will wear our brand with pride and share our mission far and wide.”
Pooler uses the Girl With A Black Dog Facebook and Instagram pages to advocate for homeless pets in hopes of finding them homes. Although she has not yet adopted another dog, she fosters two cats in her home.
“Every dog and cat deserves a good home,” she said.
More information about the organization is available on its Facebook page, found under Girl With A Black Dog.