Cornelius animal lover Holly Davis, founder and CEO of Holly’z Hope, can be seen daily, cruising around town in her 1964 Ford pickup truck, peering into the backyards of the homes she slowly passes.
Her intentions are pure. Davis is looking for dogs that are on tethers so she can approach the owners and offer a better way of life for their animal. Davis, 45, said that when she moved to Cornelius in July of 2015 she saw a lot of dogs tethered, outside, in the elements, and it concerned her.
She approached animal control, only to find out there was nothing if could do about the situation because of the current ordinances. One day this past October the situation called her to action.
Driving by the home of Gregory and Kim Campbell she saw Shaundi, a pit bull mix, tethered to a tree behind the house and felt she had to do something.
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Holly’z Hope and the volunteers put no energy into judging the dog owner or the dog. We focus all of our energy into caring for the dog.
Not knowing how the owners might react, she knocked on the door anyway, hoping they would allow her to make a difference. She found a minister and his wife who were friendly but curious. “We didn’t know what to think in the beginning,” said Campbell.
Davis simply asked if they would let her build them a dog house. When they agreed, she told Campbell it would take a week to build. “She was back the next day with the dog house and she has been like family since,” said Campbell.
Davis researched organizations that build houses and fences for dogs, but found none serviced the Cornelius area. She founded Holly’z Hope, with the slogan – “Changing the world, one dog at a time” – in October of 2015 and went to work building dog houses.
Having built the house for Shaundi, some of the Campbell’s neighbors were receptive to her building houses for their dogs. Building five houses herself, word began to spread in the community and volunteers donated 11 more, placing 16 doghouses in the surrounding neighborhoods as they continue to search for more dogs in need.
This dog is my family. To come in and take what belongs to me and treat it as if it was yours for a long time has meant the world to me. What an impact she has made, not only in my dog’s life, but also in our lives.
In November, Davis applied for and received 501 (c) 3 nonprofit status and began offering spay/neuter services for pet owners as well. In the past month, her volunteer base swelled from five to 56 as more people learned of her efforts. The group serves Cornelius and Huntersville.
Davis is passionate about getting these dogs into a better living situation and off tethers. She doesn’t object to short-term tethering but is working to end 24-hour, seven-days-a-week tethering in Cornelius.
Davis said, besides the physical and emotional injuries caused by tethering, there are other issues involved. “It isolates the animal and creates a more aggressive animal,” she said. Pointing out the practice creates a public safety hazard and it can hurt property values as well.
Davis is working with Cornelius Police Department Maj. Kevin Black and Town Manager Anthony Roberts to present an anti-tethering ordinance to the Town Council for a vote March 21. Davis said she appreciates the help she has received from animal control, the police department and the town as she pursues this initiative.
There are no fees to the owners that the organization helps. “Holly’z Hope and the volunteers put no energy into judging the dog owner or the dog. We focus all of our energy into caring for the dog,” she said.
Explaining that some people have made wrong assumptions about the owners because they use tethering, Davis said, “99 percent of them (the owners) absolutely love their dogs just like you and I do.”
She said the reason people use tethers may be cultural, not being educated to the negative effects of tethering or they may not have any other economic means of controlling the dog.
Her mission is to help them provide a better living environment for their pets.
Davis has returned to the Campbell’s home several times, once to take Shaundi to be spayed. On Feb. 7, with the help of 14 volunteers, Holly’z Hope built a 20-foot by 17-foot fence enclosure around the original dog house, to give Shaundi room to run and play free.
On Feb, 17, choking back tears, Campbell said, “This dog is my family. To come in and take what belongs to me and treat it as if it was yours for a long time has meant the world to me. What an impact she has made, not only in my dog’s life, but also in our lives,” before thanking Davis and giving her a hug.
“It is incredibly rewarding to see Greg appreciate something so simple,” said Davis. But her biggest reward might be seeing the change in Shaundi and soon other dogs, with two more fences scheduled.
“When you un-tether a pit bull and put them inside a fence, it is as friendly as can be,” said Davis. She said you would not have wanted to go near Shaundi when she was on chain because of the body language and attitude she projected, “but you put her in that little fence, that cost $500, and all the sudden Shaundi is a happy dog running around, wanting to play.”
Marty Price is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Holly’z Hope serves all breeds of dogs. To donate, volunteer or request assistance go to: www.hollyzhope.com or visit www.facebook.com/hollyzhope/info/.
Want to help?
Donations can be made at www.hollyzhope.com. A Keep Us Out of the Pound fundraiser is scheduled for 1-5 p.m. April 2 at Lucky Dog Bark and Brew, 9607 Statesville Road, Cornelius. Details are also on the website.