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When I first started DINE back in 2004, I wanted to start a program that would help as many dogs as possible, and support the efforts of all rescues & shelters in my area. I initially began by asking rescues and shelters what the needs were for the dogs. Menands Shelter had a little dog named Thaila who was born with a deformity in her front legs. She did not have weight bearing bones that would enable her to walk but she did the best she could on her elbows. A local vet agreed to perform surgery that had never been performed before, at a reduced cost of $500. I literally begged for money on the street and raised over $100. I had my first fundraiser (a bake sale) and raised an additional $125. Sadly this little girl did not make it, and many people were heartbroken. But there were so many people who tried to give her a well deserved chance...

This was so sad, depressing and distressful that I ultimately decided I needed to be more global in my activities or I would become too overwhelmed with emotion.

DINE's mission became threefold: to purchase and donate essential items to dogs in the care of shelters and rescues; to develop, maintain and distribute a comprehensive list of rescues, shelters and animal welfare organizations in the capital region of upstate New York (which is current!); and to provide education to students about homeless dogs, especially in local shelters and rescues. Through these activities, I hoped to help increase adoption, make dogs' lives more comfortable while they waited for their forever homes and provide community awareness.

DINE held many fundraisers and purchased/donated many Kuranda dog beds and Kong toys as well as veterinary care, special food, treats, blankets, and other items, some of which are still being used today. Although we worked on many projects, locally, we became known as "the bed program."

My husband assembled every dog bed, helped with deliveries, and even took vacation time to go to schools to show kids how to assemble the beds. I worked with elementary schools, Girl Scout troops and others on a variety of projects to help rescue/shelter dogs. Pat Wrisley and Bensons Pet Center helped with our bake sales and Benson's helped us tremendously with our "Kong program." Some of what we did can be found under DINE accomplishments and DINE photos 2008-present although there never seems to be enough time to update the website entirely.

Many thanks go out to all of the kind-hearted individuals and business that helped DINE along the way. Eventually, the amount of work involved was taking a bit of a toll on my health and I was no longer able to keep all three missions going, especially the fundraisers. I dissolved the 501c3 status and stopped taking donations. Sometimes I wish I hadn't done that because there have been so many situations where we could have helped a dog if we had the donations. Either way, everything I do through DINE is 100% volunteer so it is still not for profit.

The Evolution of D.I.N.E.

"I have been worrying about animal suffering for as long as I can remember. I became consumed with my worries to the point of doing nothing. I wanted to go to shelters to bring treats to dogs but I couldn't bear seeing heartbroken animals living in cages... so I did nothing. I was sickened by the idea of someone taking pleasure in forcing innocent dogs to fight, but the task of trying to do something about it was too overwhelming... so I did nothing. When I thought about volunteering for an animal organization, I worried that I would get pulled into organizational politics... so I did nothing. When I donated money to animal organizations, I worried that it would not be spent in the way I had intended... so I stopped. I've seen starving, sick, abused, neglected, and homeless dogs and I've helped a few along the way. But it wasn't in a big enough way. I finally realized that if I could put as much energy into helping dogs as I put into worrying about them, I could make a difference in the lives of many. This is the goal of D.I.N.E."
--Kathleen Collar

In closing, I want to take a moment to acknowledge two people who have supported all of DINE's efforts from day one.

First, I could never accomplish a fraction of what I do without support and help from my husband Ray. I can't begin to explain the number of projects I've asked for his "help" on only to essentially hand over the project to him because I got in over my head. I won't detail the extra load he bears in order for me to work on the projects I do. But I will say, he loves dogs as much as I do. I am more than lucky to have him in my life.

Cheryl Kay Goldstein has been our webmaster from the start. She doesn't even live in NY but she has graciously donated not only her time but also money and items to almost every fundraising effort we've had. She has never asked for recognition. She does it in the spirit of a love for animals and has become one of my most trusted friends.

I don't know what exactly what 2014 will bring. I've been trying to work on an educational project now for over 2 years. But when you know you can help a dog now, it becomes more important than potentially helping a dog later. So I'm not sure how this will get resolved, but one way or another, I will be committed to helping make a positive difference in the lives of dogs in need everywhere.

Kathleen Collar


 
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