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Rocker Ronnie James Dio raises money for dog rescue effort

'A Day in Their Paws': Humans stay in kennels to get a dog’s perspective

Posted: November 7, 2009 8:17 p.m.
Updated: November 8, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Heavy metal singer Ronnie James Dio signs memorabilia at the "A Day in Their Paws" fundraiser for The Brittany Foundation in Agua Dulce on Saturday. The event's goal was to raise awareness on the plight of shelter dogs.

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Volunteer humans experienced Saturday what it’s like to be a homeless dog awaiting adoption while in a kennel.

The volunteers made the caged dens their homes for many consecutive hours to raise awareness of shelter life and to raise money for The Brittany Foundation in Agua Dulce.

Local and non-local residents turned out to see the volunteers in the kennels, to meet heavy metal singer Ronnie James Dio and to support the foundation, an all-breed dog rescue and sanctuary.

Foundation board member Rene Ruston described what is was like to participate in “A Day in their Paws,” as she shared a kennel with Candy, who has been at the sanctuary for nine years.  

“It was eye-opening. I always felt those kennels were very roomy but it’s still a kennel,” said Ruston, of Sherman Oaks.

The goal was to bring awareness to the plight of shelter dogs, Ruston said.

“The premise of this whole thing was to get volunteers and board members to spend 24 hours in a kennel with one of the dogs,” Ruston said. “(The dogs) live in these kennels every single day.”

Twelve foundation volunteers sought to get friends, family or strangers to buy them out of their kennel for $1 per minute. Although each volunteer raised enough money to buy them out of their kennel for the day, they all chose to spend much of their day in the kennel anyway, Ruston said. Each volunteer reeled in $1400 to $1500 each for The Brittany Foundation.

Dio’s wife, Wendy Dio, spent several hours in a kennel while the heavy metal legend, a self-described animal lover, signed autographs and granted personal pictures with his fans.

“I didn’t want to get into a (kennel) but I wanted to raise some money for the foundation,” said Dio, lead singer of Heaven & Hell, Black Sabbath and Dio.

Dio said he’s not used to taking money for autographs but when he saw the money going into the foundation’s can, he remembered it was for a good cause. Fans could donate $5 for a handshake with Dio, $25 for a signed photograph and $50 for a photo with Dio.

“It certainly shows the power of your fame but it also shows how people want to take part in the things people do that are good,” he said.

Besides Dio, a 130-pound wolf hybrid named Shaman was also a hit, said his human kennel companion Pamela Gatell.   

“He’s probably the scariest looking dog but the most gentle,” Gatell said. “I think he’s going to be even warmer after this.”

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