A Gift from the Heart Makes a Difference for Rescue Dogs

Case Studies

An 11-year-old’s generosity makes a better life possible for abandoned canines.

There aren’t many 11-year-olds who have already created a lasting legacy, but Anna Getner is among them. Following a diagnosis of leukemia in 2013, and after enduring more than two years of treatments, Getner was contacted by a wish granter from Make-A-Wish Connecticut™ to make a special wish come true. But the young girl from Wilton, Connecticut, didn’t ask for a trip to Walt Disney World or tickets to see her favorite sports team play. Instead, the young animal lover, who adored her own dog, Franklin, wanted to make life better for abandoned dogs at her local animal shelter.

Getner’s vision was clear: There were discarded dogs in the world, and she could make a difference for them by creating a space for them in which to play and meet their future families. Working with a local animal shelter, her goal was to develop an indoor dog park that would be a bright, cheery space for them while they waited for their forever homes.

It was an unusual request, but the Make-A-Wish Connecticut team immediately went to work and found the Pet Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in Norwalk was in need of just such a space. The staff at the dog rescue was floored by their benefactor’s generosity and many were in tears that young Getner, who had already been through so much, would take such action for a cause that meant so much to them.

An inspired installation

“We really wanted the space to be Anna’s inspiration and feel like an indoor park. She met us at a local park with Franklin, and we took photographs of them,” says Kim Smith, development director at Make-A-Wish Connecticut.

Getner chose the photos she liked best, and the team then turned to Bridgeport-based Robbins Tesar, Inc. (RTI), which specializes in creating trade show exhibits and large-scale design solutions for help. RTI wanted to create a dramatic impact on the walls, which were roughly 40 feet long by 9 feet high. The product would need to be durable and easy to clean, so they chose 3M™ Controltac™ film with 3M™ Scotchcal™ overlaminate, both because they met those criteria and were easy to install.

Uplifting impact

One wall in the room was immediately transformed into a beautiful outdoor scene, including a depiction of Anna and Franklin. On the other wall, “Anna’s Dog Park” is spelled out in a mosaic of photographs of dogs as a testimony to the impact it had already had. The space also features dog food and water bowls, floor decals, a park bench, and more. Roughly 13 companies and organizations contributed to the effort, which was unveiled in February 2016.

Since then, dozens of dogs have met their new families in the space Getner provided. “We wanted the room to be as uplifting and bright as possible—it’s a pet rescue, so this is the room where people who are coming in to adopt meet the dogs and puppies,” adds Todd Walsh, RTI’s graphics production manager. “It’s made such a difference, and it was nice to do something for Anna.”

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