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Mon, Jan. 25

Giving the dogs a home
Local animal rescue group seeks funding to build permanent holding facility

Clara Beard/WGCN<br>
Robynn Eckel sits with her family of rescued dogs. All of the dogs came to Eckel as a result of her efforts with SAVE-Meant to Rescue, a non-profit organization she founded.

Clara Beard/WGCN<br> Robynn Eckel sits with her family of rescued dogs. All of the dogs came to Eckel as a result of her efforts with SAVE-Meant to Rescue, a non-profit organization she founded.

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Behind bars, low chance of bail, and a high chance of never making it out alive. This is the painful reality for many abandoned dogs in the Williams area.

Fortunately, these dogs have a firm ally and friend in Robynn Eckel, who has been fighting for years to establish a no-kill holding facility in Williams.

Eckel, founder of SAVE-Meant to Rescue (MTR), a non-profit organization, has garnered enough backing from the community to slowly make the building become a reality. Through fundraisers and persistence she has been able to secure land, blueprints, construction volunteers and building materials, but she's not quite there yet.

"Our goal is about $100,000. Without grant money, I'm thinking it will take around four years to complete this building, with grants I'm hoping by next year," Eckel said.

Finding grant writers has been a challenge for Eckel, who recognizes the need for grant funds, but struggles financially to pay for a grant writer.

"I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and hire one, it is just hard to give up fund money," She said. "It is all for building material, and was hard earned."

MTR has placed over 20 pound-bound dogs in permanent homes since the organization was founded in 2009, an accomplishment that could not have happened without the support of faithful volunteers. MTR's website was also a donation by website designer Kara Hansen, who approached Eckel offering her services free of charge after seeing a fundraising flyer. According to Eckel, these are the kinds of donations and sacrifices that have kept her motivated when she encounters opposition or roadblocks along the way.

"I've got about 12 ladies and a couple guys that are just like, 'let's go, let's do this.' So now I am fortunate to have a lot of help. It wasn't always that way though," Eckel said. "Nadine Dorschler and Melissa Horn were two of my first fundraisers. They had a craft sale one day and brought me their money. They said, 'this is to help you with the dogs, Robynn.' That really helped me start off."

Support for MTR's building project extends into Flagstaff, where Coconino Humane Society and Second Chance Animal Shelter are excited to see facilities' completion and in use, due to their own overcrowding.

"Second Chance Humane Society is actually waiting for us to get the building up, because they want us to keep our own dogs," Eckel said. "Once our dogs go up to Flagstaff, no one promotes them. They are just another dog in a kennel. Our dogs need to be our responsibility to take care of and promote."

In the future, Eckel plans to approach schools with programs for students on pet responsibility and humane care and treatment. She considers education one of the only solutions to lower the number of abused and abandoned dogs in Williams.

"Years ago when my kids were in school I used to go to the school every spring with some other members of WAAG and give animal talks about how to treat your animals during hot weather," she said. "I would go back in the fall and do the same for winter weather. I did that for five or six years, and those kids now are adults and some of the best dog owners out there. We are hoping to start something like that up again."

Projects such as MTR's facility are an example of what can be accomplished when community members band together for a common goal. MTR's supporters recognize the need for Williams to take control of their dog population and concerned citizens are gradually meeting the need.

Mayor John Moore echoes the sentiment.

"I think anything that anyone does to help with the situation that some of our animals find themselves in is a good thing," Moore said. "Personally, I support Robynn in her endeavors and I think the city supports what she is trying to do as well."

Eckel said she has the right people behind her, has held successful fundraising events and has a passion for animals. Now, all it is going to take is patience and perseverance.

"We can see where we are trying to head, although it is just inches at a time. We'd love to be able to jump a mile. The great thing is to have fantastic people behind me," Eckel said. "People might roll their eyes when they see me coming, but they still help me because they are dog lovers too."

SAVE-MTR is hosting a bake sale fundraiser this Friday, 9 a.m. to 1p.m. in front of the Chamber of Commerce, Safeway and Old Trails.

MTR's Cut-a-thon will be held Sunday. Lyndie's Salon and Manytails Dog Grooming will team up to provide haircuts for the humans and shampoo/drying for the dogs. All proceeds will go to MTR.

To donate, adopt a dog, or volunteer, visit MTR's website at or call (928) 635-4726.

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