Onyx, a black Labrador adopted from Blount County Animal Center in March, has settled in as the new “office dog” at Russell & Abbott Heating and Cooling office in Maryville.
Now in honor of Onyx, Russell & Abbott is giving back to the animal shelter by helping with a critical need — raising money to fund treatments for heartworm-positive dogs.
“Russell & Abbott’s help couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Diane Martin, president of the Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation. “For several years, we have relied on a grant from a nonprofit that specifically helped fund heartworm treatment. But the agency is dissolving and that’s leaving us with a financial need. It costs somewhere between $250 and $500 to treat each heartworm-positive dog, which amounts to about $15,000 a year.”
The foundation is a nonprofit organization that has a legal partnership with BCAC. While the county pays for the shelter’s building and general staff, SMACF provides funding for medical supplies, medical personnel and transport of animals to rescue groups and families in other states.
Martin said SMACF and BCAC will kick off a fundraising campaign on Aug. 1 to focus on their “Adopt a Kennel” program. The program invites individuals, groups or businesses to adopt a BCAC dog or cat kennel for $500. Each donation will be acknowledged with a plaque on a kennel door, and the money will fund heartworm treatment for one or two dogs.
Russell & Abbott will match the first six donations by contributing $3,000. Company spokeswoman Shannon Bryant said Russell & Abbott is also looking for ways to continue the effort to ensure the shelter heartworm treatment is funded each year.
And Onyx is their inspiration.
For several years, a black Labrador named Black Olive was the beloved “office dog” at Russell & Abbott. Adopted from BCAC, she was even the inspiration for the company’s logo. But when her owner retired in 2014, Black Olive retired, too.
“We were without an office dog for a long time,” Bryant said. Earlier this year, Russell & Abbott employee Megan Peredo noticed Onyx on the BCAC’s Facebook page. It seemed like serendipity: The company’s proprietary brand of HVAC equipment is called “Onyx.”
Peredo showed the dog’s photo to company President Chris Hurley, and he went to BCAC to meet Onyx.
“Chris came back and said, ‘Let’s foster Onyx for a couple of days to see how it works,’” Bryant said. “At the end of Day 1, we decided to adopt him.”
Onyx spends his days in the office and goes home with Hurley at night.
“From Olive to Onyx, BCAC has brought us so much joy. We want to return the favor,” Bryant said. “We’re glad to help BCAC unite even more dogs with forever homes.”
Martin said the Adopt a Kennel Program is a great way for the community to help animals in need while getting something special in return.
“We’ve had individuals donate in honor or in memory of a loved one or a cherished pet,” Martin said. “Adopting a Kennel in someone’s name is a wonderful gift. The program is also an ideal project for school groups and civic organizations. Of course, it’s also a great way for businesses to show their support for animal welfare.”
To participate in the Adopt a Kennel program or to donate to SMACF to benefit BCAC, visit https://www.smacf.com/donate/.