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We are stronger together than we are alone!

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debbie0NOTE from BOSTON TERRIER NETWORK: This is the second part of our four part interview with Debbie Rappuhn, the founder and president of HEART OF ALABAMA SAVE RESCUE ADOPT (HASRA) And a former Shoals Woman of the Year. They are located at 4101 Highway 72 in Killen, Al 34545. You may contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I decided to ask if I could come visit her new sanctuary. I was amazed. HASRA started their sanctuary less than a year ago on bare ground.  Interview dated July 2014.


Q: What struggles have you overcome?

Debbie: “I volunteered at the animal shelter for 5 years. I know this will sound like a joke, but this is the truth. I had been fighting the county commission, the mayor, and the city board for years trying to get more money for the shelter. I tried to get more help for the animals, a new shelter and so much more. I went to meetings and asked for meetings. They were tired of me fighting for animal rights.  They banned be from volunteering at the shelter. The only reason they did was that before I left on a 4am transport that morning I had left Wal-Mart shopping bags in the break room.“


Q: Did this become another turning point for you?

Debbie: “After being banned, I knew I could not stop saving the animals and HASRA had planned to build a kennel one day down the road. We decided this was the time. We decided to dig our heels in and just do it. It has been a very tiring and exhausting trip to get to this point. Yet this has been the best thing that has happened to us as a group. We love what we are doing and not having to deal with the city and county politics or indifference of city officials. This was not planned, But Oh such a good thing to make us get started.“


Q: From your experiences there, Debbie, you and your group of volunteers took a leap of faith without skipping a beat; you just went right into your current amazing project, HEART OF ALABAMA SAVE RESCUE ADOPT (HASRA) Sanctuary. Tell us more about what you're doing now.

Debbie:   “I have a long list, basically anything that has to do with the animals, from buildings, and plans for the HEART OF ALABAMA SAVE RESCUE ADOPT (HASRA) Sanctuary. “

 debbie2Debbie may be the president of HASRA, but she is hands on. She has developed a remarkable active group of supporters and fans… Her lists of what her volunteers have accomplished in a very short time, and continue to add; goes something like this… They have volunteered to help with fundraising, build the buildings, kennels, dog runs, plumbing and electrical work. When I ask her what she had done, this was her reply.


Debbie: “I help build and paint the kennel buildings, lay rock, rake rock, Lots of rock LOL, clean up all surrounding areas, because I am a perfectionist. People make fun of me because I pick up any tiny piece of trash as I am walking the dogs.“ 


The morning I arrived at the Sanctuary, one of Debbie’s volunteers, Robin, was already there cleaning robinthe kennels; sanitation is very important to them. Everything was being washed down and sanitized. The cement flooring were designed to funnel the water away from the pens and into well-drained collection points. There were several men busy working with painting an electrical wiring. Each pen was covered with canvas and many had water misters ready to use. Looking at the smiling happy faces of the dogs as they rushed the gate to greet me, told me this was a happy place for them. Inside the main building, I discovered the hub of this operation. The groups of puppies, separated in large open pens, but away from each other for their safety until old enough to have had all their shots. Fans were safely positioned to help keep the air moving through the area. In addition, all around the outside pens the adult dogs were playing and prancing in joy of having a new human to check out. There was work areas for medication and office work.


 The sanctuary has received not only donated building materials, but also landscaping rock and grass sod. It is very important to Debbie that all of the dogs have an opportunity to run free in the newly sodden grass, which surrounds the kennels on three sides.


Like most experienced people working with rescued dogs, Debbie knows the importance of telling the story in photos not just words “We transport the dogs, twice a month, to a professional photographer to take pictures. “



Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1



This is the first interview in a four part series of inspiring people in North Alabama, on the front-lines of animal rescue. Our first interview was with Debbie Rappuhn, the Founder and President of HEART OF ALABAMA SAVE RESCUE ADOPT (HASRA) And a former Shoals Woman of the Year.. 


WARNING from BOSTON TERRIER NETWORK: This is a true experience from the inside of an animal shelter through a manager's eyes. Have your tissues ready... You will need them.

I think our society needs a huge "Wake-up" call. As a pound manager, I am going to share a little insight with you all...a view from the inside if you will.