Causes | April 2016

A Bed for This Doggone Head

Angela Pieroni’s Blankets for Barks provides bedding and
toys for area shelter animals

 

Story by  DOUG GILLON  |  Photos by  ​​Jackie Blanch

A dog in an animal shelter doesn’t have anything. It might have a concrete floor, a fence to look through, a roof overhead; and a bunch of other animals to have to mess with for sleeping space. That’s in a good situation. In an outdoor shelter, no roof comes with the furnishings.

Four years ago, Angela Pieroni wanted to do something for these dogs. Cold, alone, and outside, they had absolutely nothing. She thought that maybe, with a little effort and determination, she could provide them something: a blanket, a bed, a toy to chew on. With that idea, she started Blankets for Barks.

 

“That first year I had just made some flyers on my computer and distributed them around the neighborhood,” Pieroni says. “It wasn’t much but I got a decent response and was able to donate several items to Germantown Animal Shelter.”

 

Over the next few years, Pieroni has continued to run the program, from late fall to mid-spring. Each year, she collectsblankets, bedding, and home-related dog items and chooses a new shelter or group to donate the items to.

 

In previous years, she partnered with Meows & Bowwows and the Tunica Humane Society. But this year, she chose Alive Rescue Memphis, after a dog in her hometown touched her heart and the hearts of the online rescue community.

 

Pieroni met that dog, Delta, on Fioranelli Drive, a road named after her family, in her hometown of Greenville, MS. A stray beagle just bouncing down the road might not seem odd in the country, but Delta caught Pieroni’s eye.

 

“Probably everybody just figured he was ok,” she says. “That’s just what country people do, you know. But you never know what’s underlying with these dogs.”

 

With Delta, there was a lot underlying. He had fairly advanced heartworms and a series of other major health issues. But Pieroni had made a connection, and was determined to save him.

“When I found [Delta] I was nervous, but there was no turning back. There was no turning back on this dog.”

 

Perioni took Delta to the best vets she could find, and got him the right care, all while sharing their health journey on social media. The process got a lot of attention from local animal lovers and the rescue community, including Alive Rescue Memphis’ President, Ranice Coppens.

“We met through everything that was going on with Delta,” Coppens says, “and then it was clear that our missions are pretty much the same, so we started working together.”

 

Sadly, the new partnership outlived its inspiration. Delta succumbed to health issues after 47 days.

“We’re still dealing with that, losing Delta,” Pieroni says. “But we’ve been able to accomplish so much in his memory.”

 

That includes the fourth annual haul for Blankets for Barks, which is the largest ever. Most of the blankets this year will be donated to Alive Rescue Memphis, to be used in foster care for dogs, and some will also be donated to the West Memphis Animal Shelter.

 

Coppens and Pieroni have also started a Delta Fund, which raises money to help strays and shelter animals who are older and show significant medical needs, and have already used that fund to save a dog from West Memphis, whom Pieroni has named “Percy” after prominent Greenville historical figure, Leroy Percy.

 

Pieroni, a lifelong animal helper who started a cat rescue when she was six years old, has bigger plans for the program moving forward. This year, she intends to make “Blankets for Barks” themed dog blankets for sale in pet stores, whose profits will benefit the charity. But even with this new tool, she still has no problem tracking down item donations.

 

“I don’t turn anything down. I will drive to the end of the earth to pick up a sheet.”

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