Speaking with Country Star Michael Ray on Raising Money for Shelter Pets

Posted by Paige Cerulli
Michael Ray and dog
Warner Music Group

After adopting a dog, country music singer Michael Ray was determined to make a difference, so he launched "Wrigley Cares" to help pets all over the country.

Rescue dogs can change our lives, but one special rescue dog is now changing the lives of other rescue pets, too. Country music star Michael Ray was so inspired by his rescue pup, Wrigley, that he wanted to find a way to give back to the communities he visits during his "Get To You" tour. So, Ray came up with a special initiative: Wrigley Cares: Helping Animals in NeedAnd now you have a chance to contribute, too.

Meeting Wrigley

Ray grew up with animals, and is no stranger to rescuing pets in need. His central Florida home growing up was host to a number of dogs and horses. Ray's parents frequently adopted rescue dogs, and his sister has since taken in two rescue dogs of her own. Since Ray was a child, he watched his parents' compassion for animals, and credits this experience as fostering his own love of animals today. Ray has been rescuing and adopting dogs since high school.

Wrigley came into Ray's life quite by accident. Ray already had another rescue dog named Lou, and he wasn't planning on adopting a new member to the family - until he met Wrigley, that is. During an interview with Wide Open Pets, Ray explained that while playing the Country LakeShake Festival in Chicago, he was scheduled to film a commercial for the PAWS Chicago Shelter. Ray walked out of his trailer to find PAWS Chicago staff with five or six puppies. Wrigley, whose name was Cowgirl at the time, was right in the middle of the puppies, and stood out thanks to her white coat and crystal blue eyes.

Knowing how much his sister loves Huskies, and seeing that Wrigley clearly had some Husky in her, Ray intended to take a photo of the puppy, but ultimately ended up working with her for the commercial, and then holding her during an interview with the concert's promoter. Wrigley laid on Ray's chest during the interview, and he knew she had to come home with him.

"Something drew me to her immediately, and I think her to me, as well," said Ray.

"We did the paperwork there. I couldn't see myself leaving without her."

And so, Wrigley had a new home.

Life with Wrigley

Wrigley has adjusted to life on the road with Ray beautifully. (Lou doesn't do so well on the bus due to anxiety, so she's safe at home in Nashville during tours.) According to Ray, Wrigley is fun-loving and great with both kids and big groups of people - "she's never met a stranger. She's one of the cutest dogs you've ever seen, and doesn't have a mean bone in her body."

Wrigley loves to play, and Ray's found a way to accommodate that even on the bus.

"Find something that squeaks and she'll make you throw it 900 times," says the country singer, so he's taken to opening up the doors within the bus and playing fetch with Wrigley down the aisle.

The pup's fun-loving nature has an added benefit for Ray and his bandmates. "She's a light to our day," said Ray. "Especially when we're on the road and we get tired, she's always happy." Wrigley has a way of brightening up a room with her cute looks and playful nature.

Creating "Wrigley Cares"

While on tour, Ray noticed that no matter where he plays shows, each community has a way of opening up its doors and making him feel right at home.

"They take care of us, they show us around, and then we leave. They do so much for us. I wanted to do something more as a thank you to the community that opens up their doors to us."

Ray's also seen the devastation that hurricanes can cause firsthand. Having grown up in Florida, he understands how many animals may become separated from their families and end up in local shelters after hurricanes. "These shelters are at capacity because of these storms," explained Ray.

"Wrigley's brightened up my life, and I was thinking that she's done so much for me, that I wanted to give back to the communities by raising awareness of shelter animals."

So, Ray talked with Warner Music Group, his record label, and explained that he wanted to find a way to give back to the communities where he played concerts. Wrigley Cares was born. Zappos For Good has helped to identify local animal shelters, and donation bins are set up at every concert. Fans can bring donations that will go directly to the animal shelters, dropping them off before heading into the concert. In exchange for making a donation, fans receive a discount code that they can use on merchandise from Ray's online store.

Ray hopes that Wrigley Cares will draw attention to the dedicated work of animals shelters, and the amazing commitment that many volunteers make to help out these animals in need.

"Hopefully people will be inspired to adopt," noted Ray.

 

Getting Involved in Wrigley Cares

Love the idea? Want to help Ray help shelter pets? You can head to one of Ray's concerts, listed below:

2017 "Get To You Tour" official dates are as follows:

    • Thu. 10/19/17 Lexington, KY: Manchester Music Hall
    • Fri. 10/20/17 Dubuque, IA: Q Casino
    • Sat. 10/21/17 Medina, OH: Thirsty Cowboy
    • Fri. 10/27/17 Rochester, NY: Anthology
    • Sat. 10/28/17 Sayreville, NJ: Starland Ballroom
    • Fri. 11/24/17 Holiday, FL: The Stockyard
    • Sat. 11/25/17 Lake Buena Vista, FL: House of Blues-Orlando
    • Fri. 12/01/17 Charlotte, NC: Coyote Joe's
    • Sat. 12/02/17 Savannah, GA: Saddlebags*
    • Thu. 12/07/17 Louisville, KY: Headliners Music Hall
    • Sat. 12/09/17 Warrendale, PA: Jergel's Rhythm Grille

*Denotes dates Devin Dawson will not appear on.

While you can donate any pet supplies, most shelters are looking specifically for dry/wet dog and cat food, as well as new/slightly used towels and blankets which can be used to line the crates.

As for the response to Wrigley Cares so far? "It's been phenomenal," said Ray. One man reached out asking if there was a limit to the donations that could be brought;  he'll be bringing two pallets of dog food. Another fan took a photo of approximately 40 blankets that will be donated at a show. Ray was impressed but not completely surprised:

"Country music's all about community and giving back to the people who have given so much to us. People want to help their own communities and raise awareness. Fans are spreading the word."

The response has been so significant that Ray and his management are currently working out a way for fans who can't make it to the shows to still be able to donate to the cause. This information will be released on Ray's social media accounts as soon as it's available.

Ray made the decision to adopt Wrigley, and in doing so he changed her life, and she changed his. Together, they're changing the lives of countless shelter pets, all with a little help from country music fans and animal lovers.

To learn more, visit MichaelRayMusic.com.

Will you contribute to Wrigley Cares? Tell us in the comments below. 

WATCH NOW: Country Stars and Their Rescue Pets

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Speaking with Country Star Michael Ray on Raising Money for Shelter Pets