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Two days before Christmas, a great friend of this organization and a great friend of animals passed away. His name was Ken Munzert, and animals had no more passionate defender and protector than he.
I came to know Ken a number of years ago when his attorney contacted me because Ken was deeply concerned that he might predecease his beloved dog, Beauregard, and he had no friends or family who could give Beau a good home for the remainder of his life. The attorney asked me if I would consider accepting responsibility for Beau, with a promise not to euthanize him unless medically necessary for the remainder of his life. I had not made a practice of accepting responsibility for people’s pets after their death but, after I spoke with Ken, I agreed to do so for Beau. When I heard Ken talk about his love for his dog and his fear that Beau would not be cared for were he to die first, I realized that Ken was just the sort of pet owner that we wished everyone would be. I could not justify to myself not helping him. So, I agreed to take Beau on were Ken to pass away.
That was the beginning of my years of friendship with Ken. Ken loved animals deeply and was intense in his viewpoint that their lives were just as sacred and just as valuable as our own. Ken was very religious and felt strongly that his God cared equally much for all of the species that were His creations. Ken could never understand the arrogance of people who believed that they were superior to other animals simply by virtue of intelligence. It was his view that our intelligence only obligated us to be responsible and compassionate stewards of other species.
Over the years, Ken become increasingly frail and had a host of physical challenges, but he would never give up his independence or his active participation in our events. During the last year of Ken’s life, his beloved Beau passed away and it was a loss that Ken never really recovered from. At the time of his sudden death, Ken was 88 years old and had just returned from a four month trip to Europe as was his tradition every fall.
Ken left nearly everything he had to a group of humane organizations of which the Richmond SPCA was one. I had never once asked Ken to remember us in his will. But, he was clearly deeply grateful for our willingness to take responsibility for Beau and wanted to make that gratitude clear.
We have recently launched a program under which we will accept the responsibility of caring for people’s pets after their death and finding those pets a loving and responsible home. We have decided to name it Beauregard’s Program in honor of the dog whose loving human started it all. Under Beauregard’s Program, we will give loving pet owners the comfort that their pet will be loved and cared for after they are gone.
When I walked through Ken’s house shortly after his death, I found a dog’s water bowl on the floor. Around the outside of the old crockery bowl, it said “To man’s best friend, his dog.” The name of our program honors the dog whose bowl that was and the best friend of dogs everywhere, Ken Munzert.
For more information on Beauregard’s Program, please contact Maya Erhardt, our Manager of Major Gifts, at (804) 521-1321.
Robin Robertson Starr
Chief Executive Officer
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