For Cats and Dogs, Empathy Rocks

Ten Denton acts play mini-fest to benefit Denton Humane Society

Rhonda Boaz-Neal would be at Rubber Gloves this Friday and Saturday night anyway, she says. A pair of bills features some of the best -- and busiest -- bands in Denton, like Dust Congress and Record Hop. But the well-being of Denton County's most helpless critters is at stake, so Boaz-Neal will be at the club not just to listen to the music, but to start a conversation.

She'll be representing Denton Humane Society at "Cats and Dogs," a two-night benefit for the organization that helps place unwanted animals with foster families until a permanent home can be secured. The $6 cover charge for each show will help pay for vaccinations, food, and everyday needs for animals placed in foster care. And some particularly less fortunate cats and dogs rescued by the program need costly help, like Reggie the Schnoodle, who fractured his pelvis and femur as a stray and needs surgery.

The group has tapped the Denton music scene for help by way of Rubber Gloves owner and DHS member Josh Baish for 7 or 8 years now, Boaz-Neal tells us. Along with Baish, Boaz-Neal has lent her connections the past two years to book bands and organize shows for the cause. She's a volunteer coordinator on the board at DHS and her husband, former Little Grizzly member George Neal, is a longtime leader in Denton music, most recently as vocalist and a guitarist for The Slow Burners who'll grace Saturday's show.

"I'm super pleased with the whole lineup," Boaz-Neal says. "One of my favorites is New Science Projects -- he's [Dale Jones] playing first on Friday so I really want people to come out from the beginning."

Denton's city animal shelter made national news last summer when a family's dog was mistakenly euthanized. Later, the Denton Record-Chronicle reported the couple, Shawn Snider and Beth Bayless-Snider, had abandoned four cats and a dog just weeks after they filed a claim demanding $206,000 for the loss of their pet.

With some t-shirts and pamphlets in tow, Boaz-Neal will set up a booth to make concertgoers aware of what DHS does to combat violence and neglect of animals.

"A lot of it is community education, and the empathy building, and promoting understanding of how much need there is. We're short on foster homes, so many animals go unclaimed," she says.

Boaz-Neal and her husband have four pets: two cats, Delores and Kittyphone, a dog named CoCo that they rescued from the pound, and a chihuahua-daschund mix named Cali, who was a DHS find.

"We had gotten CoCo and she needed a companion. We'd come home from lunch to check on her, we just wanted someone else around," Boaz-Neal says. "I saw her picture [on the DHS Web site] and just thought, she's the perfect size and type. Everything was set up right for the adoption process. We had a new fence and everything."

To find out more about the Denton Humane Society, including a low cost spay-and-neuter program and how to host pets as a foster parent, visit their Web site. You can also befriend the organization on Myspace.

Doors open at Rubber Gloves for "Cats and Dogs: A Benefit for the Denton Humane Society" at 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday. Brent Best, Tre Orsi, Spooky Folk, Dust Congress, and New Science Projects play tonight, and Record Hop, Chris Flemmons (Baptist Generals), The Slow Burners, Fishboy, and The Heelers play Saturday.

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