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Big Heart Pet Brands donates $20,000 to Hand in Paw, Sasha’s favored charity

Amy Smith, human resources manager, and Michael Locke, operations manager, are shown at Big Heart Pet Brands in Decatur. The company's $20,000 donation to Hand in Paw therapy perpetuates wishes of the late Sasha Dison, whose outreach has helped pets in distress through 'Taking Care of Paws - Sasha's Way." (CONTRIBUTED)
Amy Smith, human resources manager, and Michael Locke, operations manager, are shown at Big Heart Pet Brands in Decatur. The company’s $20,000 donation to Hand in Paw therapy perpetuates wishes of the late Sasha Dison, whose outreach has helped pets in distress through ‘Taking Care of Paws – Sasha’s Way.” (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – The memory of young Sasha Dison lives on. Big Heart Pet Brands, headquartered in San Francisco and with a manufacturing plant in Alabama, has donated $20,000 to Hand in Paw, a pet therapy program that consoled Sasha during hospitalization in Birmingham.

Sasha Dison passed away on April 27 from Stage 4 cancer of the connective tissue. She was nine years old.

“I reached out to Beth Mumaw and the ‘Taking Care of Paws – Sasha’s Way’ group to find out a few of Sasha’s favorite charitable organizations,” Michael Locke, operations manager with Big Heart Pet Brands, said. “Sasha had several favorites; however, the Hand in Paw organization stood out as the right candidate for the grant.”

Founded in Birmingham in 1996, Hand in Paw strives to improve the health and well being of individuals by helping their physical, emotional, educational or psychological needs through interactions with professionally trained Animal-Assisted Therapy Teams. (handinpaw.org)

Hand in Paw services north central Alabama. Its therapy teams make more than 60,000 patient/client contacts annually.

Sasha’s love for animals and people was the deciding factor for Big Heart Pet Brands’ donation. “Sasha loved the bond between pets and people,” Locke said. “Our goal at Big Heart Pet is to nurture the bond between pets and the people who love them, making every day special.”

“Sasha’s giving spirit lives on through her organization and Hand in Paw is representative of that same spirit,” Locke said.

Hand in Paw will use the donation to recruit and train volunteers in the field, along with implementing new service partnerships.

Mumaw said she and volunteers with Taking Care of Paws – Sasha’s Way were “elated with the news and commitment from so many people. Big Heart Pet Brands has made this journey so fulfilling in so many ways.”

Hand in Paw provided much emotional encouragement for Sasha. “The dog visits were the highlight of her day,” Mumaw said.

“We’re moving forward with obtaining our 501(c)3 status for Taking Care of Paws. Sasha’s love for animals and her legacy will live on,” Mumaw said.

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