By Ashley Rader
The second annual pet food drive to benefit the Elizabethton Carter County Animal Shelter will be held throughout the month of July. The drive honors the memory of Mary Alice Crawford.
Friends and coworkers of Crawford started the pet food drive in her memory last year. Crawford passed away on July 4, 2011, after suffering complications from pulmonary fibrosis. She was owner of Hair of the Dog, a pet grooming studio. In her obituary, she requested that donations be made to the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter in lieu of flowers.
Her friends decided to take her request one step further and organized a pet food drive in Crawford’s honor.
“She loved all animals — cats, dogs, squirrels, deer, possums,” said John Whitson. “It didn’t matter. She loved them all and wanted to take care of the animals the best she could.”
Whitson operates Whitson Barber Shop which is located next door to Hair of the Dog.
“She had a real rapport with animals, especially dogs,” he said. “We called her the ‘dog whisperer’ because she was so good with them. We thought this was a wonderful thing to do in honor of her.”
Crawford is also remembered for her compassion and care for her clients and their pets. She would help out her clients who needed grooming services but could not afford them and would help to find homes for pets when their elderly owners had to go into nursing homes.
Whitson recalled that her love for animals extended to those that lived in the wild as well. He said Crawford found an injured baby deer and nursed it back to health. When it was well enough, it was placed at Bays Mountain Park where it still resides. She also rescued a baby possum that had been hit by a car. The possum was badly wounded but she cared for it until it was well again. The wounds it received in the accident were so bad it wouldn’t have survived in the wild, so she let it stay at her home and even named it Bubba. She also once cared for a peacock.
“She had a heart as big as this building,” he said.
It is with those memories in mind that the pet food drive was planned. Whitson said any size donation will be accepted and the drive is for cat, dog, puppy or kitten food.
“This is a community-wide effort,” he said. “It is open to anyone who wants to make a donation. We hope we are overwhelmed by pet food. We have ways to handle it and make sure it gets to the shelter so the more we can collect, the better.”
Last year the pet food drive collected over 4,000 pounds of pet food for the animal shelter. Whitson said the goal for this year is to surpass that amount. Donations will be accepted through the end of July at Whitson’s Barber Shop at 1782 West Elk Ave., Elizabethton.