Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Marsha Panuce's Goal Is a Refuge for Dogs That Is More Chateau Than Kennel

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Marsha Panuce's Goal Is a Refuge for Dogs That Is More Chateau Than Kennel

Article excerpt

MYAKKA CITY

When Marsha Panuce looks out across the 50 acres of pasture she now owns in this rural community, her vision comes to life.

It's not horses or cows she sees on the rural property. It's dogs.

Lots and lots of happy dogs.

This month, Panuce, a longtime Sarasota resident, dog lover and the host of "Animal Outtakes" on Sarasota's ABC 7, took one step closer to fulfilling her lifelong dream by breaking ground on a new animal care operation in Manatee County.

Donte's Den, named affectionately after her late standard schnauzer, Donte, will be Florida's first long-term care center for dogs, according to its founder.

Donte's Den will not be a normal dog boarding or veterinary office, Panuce said. The center will be a safe haven for pets whose owners can no longer care for them -- either owners who are moving into nursing homes where their pets cannot move with them, or military personnel whose pets need a long-term home during a lengthy deployment.

The multimillion-dollar center will have home settings for dogs and a state-of-the-art surgery center.

Construction on the 50-acre parcel already has begun, and Panuce hopes her nonprofit organization and center will be open for business early next year.

THE INSPIRATION

The idea behind Donte's Den has been a long time coming.

"My husband and I traveled extensively throughout our business careers," she said. "We always had dogs, and our biggest concern was what would happen to our dogs if something happened to us."

Panuce and her husband began ticking off friends and family members who they thought would care for their three dogs at the time.

"What we realized was, that though our loved ones would take care of our pets, they wouldn't love them like we did," she said. "So we started coming up with the idea of a center for dogs in such cases, where they would have their own shelters and staff and volunteers who would love them."

Panuce's husband died five years ago, and Donte, too, passed away just a few years later. …

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