By Melanie Casey
Special to The Laker/Lutz News
There’s an office in the Central Bank in north Tampa, which plays a role in a dachshund rescue group’s mission.
The office, a stone’s throw from Wesley Chapel on the Pasco County line, acts as a way station for the Dachshund Adoption, Rescue and Education (DARE) organization, which facilitates rescues of the long, low dogs commonly called “wiener” dogs.
The Florida-based, nonprofit organization, rescues dogs from central and north Florida animal shelters, provides them with veterinary care and finds them foster homes. It also screens potential adopters and works to place the dogs in permanent homes.
“We take them no matter what condition they are in,” said Alicia Duval, DARE vice president. “As long as we can financially afford it and have a foster home to put them in.”
Her mother, Pat Duval, senior vice president of Central Bank, uses her glass-enclosed office as a temporary place for DARE-rescued dogs to wait until transport arrives to take them to foster homes in places like Gainesville, Lakeland and Jacksonville.
Alicia arranges for the dogs to make a stop on what Pat has nicknamed “the underground railroad,” because of its central location for many DARE volunteers.
So far, about 10 dogs have her office while awaiting pickup — much to the delight of her dog-loving coworkers.
The office is also a convenient place for people to bring donations of needed items.
“It’s nice to help the animals in need,” said supporter Margaret Kisala. “Especially with the economy, more dogs are in need.” Kisala, who lives in Wesley Chapel, stopped by on July 17 to drop off a dog stroller and other goodies.
The minority-owned community bank, which opened about four years ago, is staffed by a slew of dog owners, many of whom support rescue organizations, Pat said. Throughout the years, it has supported DARE with silent auction items, donations and more.
“The bank has been very good to us,” Alicia said. “They allow the dogs to stay at the office and have given us several donations over the years. They really believe in the community, and I don’t just say that.”
In keeping with that support, Mary Ann Yaney, branch manager at Central Bank, presented a $500 check on July 17 to DARE, representing the “Gold Paw” sponsorship level, for the group’s upcoming Dox-a-Palooza fundraising event at November’s Sun ‘n Fun in Lakeland.
DARE rescues about 100 dogs per year, Alicia said. Nearly all of the money it raises is used to cover such things as insurance, vet bills, taxes and other expenses. Volunteers take care of the administrative duties, transport the dogs and handle other tasks.
“No one gets paid,” Alicia said. Right now, there are about 20 active DARE fosters living in homes around the state.
Alicia, mom to local celebrity dachshund Forrest Gump (you can find him on Facebook), has been around the dogs all of her life and started with DARE several years ago as a volunteer. She, along with Pat, her dad and grandmother, live in Tampa with a houseful of dogs (dachshunds, naturally), including two soon-to-be DARE dachshund mix puppies, recently rescued with their mother. All three were tied outside to a tree but will now find loving homes thanks to DARE.
DARE is holding a bingo fundraising event Aug. 4 at Hamburger Mary’s Bar and Grill in Tampa. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. and the cost is $10. All proceeds benefit DARE.
For more information about DARE, including dogs currently available for adoption, visit www.daretorescue.com.
To learn more about Central Bank, stop by at 20701 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. or visit http://www.centralbankfl.com/.