HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — For 8 years, ABC Action News has had the privilege of presenting the Be More Positive award at WEDU’s Academy Awards for non-profits. We honor someone whose act of kindness has made a lasting impact in someone’s life. The honoree might also be a person who took action outside their regular job to make a positive difference in the community! That’s where this year’s winners comes in.
Bill and Lisa Gray, owners of Second Chance Friends, a Tampa Bay animal rescue they operate out of their ranch, are this year’s recipients of the Be More Positive Award.
Bill works a full-time job selling carpets and flooring and finds the time to rescue hundreds of sick animals.
"People think I’m the Plant City dog catcher,” said Bill when we interviewed him at the ranch. “I’m not! I get calls all the time."
The Gray’s have given more than 1,500 animals refuge in their time in the animal rescue business. Often times getting animals from the shelter hours from being euthanized.
“I can’t take all the credit. I’ve got some amazing volunteers that are just driven to help and do everything they can,” said Bill.
Bill started in the rescue business 16 years ago. Second Chance Friends has been up and running for the last six, without government funding or grants of any kind.
"When I see an old dog in here. I wonder if his whole life has been miserable or not. So if I can get a couple months where he is loved and cared for; with his belly full and a soft bed with no fleas, then that's what we do," said Bill.
We surprised Bill with the news he had won the 2018 Be More Positive award at the Pet Resource Center in Hillsborough County. One of the shelters Second Chance Friends is instrumental in helping.
"They've taken out animals who have been very difficult medical or behavioral issues,” said Scott Trebatoski, Director of Pet Resource Center. “The ones that people typically don't want to adopt right away and they find them good homes."
Make no mistake, this is no easy task for Bill and his wife. Financially and emotionally this is a huge undertaking.
"It’s a lot of stress,” said Bill. “But all you have to do is walk through the shelter one time and you will see why. These guys need us. We just focus on one dog at a time. When I go to bed at night, I think of everything that needs to be done and the ones that are still here [in the shelter]."
Bill also had some advice for all of us.
“Don’t assume someone else is going to do it. If it’s just making a phone call to help an animal. We can all do that much,” said Bill.
He added that donations are always helpful as well, especially to help with the Second Chance Friends Compassionate Care Program. It’s set up for those animals who don’t have much longer to live and they have gone to Second Chance Friends to live out the remainder of their lives.
To learn more about Second Chance Friends, or how you can volunteer or donate, visit their Facebook page.