Attorney Ashley Younger Helps CARE for Animals Put on Fashionable Fundraiser

As a child growing up in Sugar Land, Texas, Ashley Younger and her animal-loving family played host to a “menagerie” of pets, including dogs, rabbits, hermit crabs, turtles, hamsters, guinea pigs and hedgehogs.

“While having some of these animals might sound crazy, my best friend had a donkey. So, our pets were considered pretty vanilla,” she laughs.

Younger’s parents, who have since relocated to Russellville, still have two rescue dogs, Miles, a schnauzer from the Tulsa Schnauzer Rescue, and Sassy, a three-pound gidget from the Russellville Animal Shelter.

And though Younger only has one pet — Lola, a schnauzer-hound mix — her love for animals remains an integral part of her life.

An attorney and lobbyist for Mitchell Williams’ Insurance Regulatory section, Younger currently serves on the board of directors for Central Arkansas Rescue Effort for Animals (CARE), is a caseworker for the program and is chairing the organization’s largest annual fundraiser, Paws on the Runway.

In its seventh year, Paws on the Runway will be held May 1 at the Governor’s Mansion and will include a runway show of models showcasing looks from local boutiques while walking adoptable CARE canines down the runway. Guests will also enjoy food, beverages and auctions and have the opportunity to meet and interact with the adoptable animals.

Governor and Mrs. Beebe will serve as the event’s honorary chairs. “CARE has been fortunate to have the Beebes as both strong supporters and stylish participants — along with their beloved dogs, Mosel and Viper — in each of our past Paws on the Runway events,” says Younger. “As they complete their final year in the Governor’s Mansion, we hope our guests will join us in recognizing the Beebes’ many contributions to CARE and the State of Arkansas.”

The theme for this year’s event is “Rescue is the New Black,” which Younger says the committee chose in order to raise awareness of the low adoption and high euthanasia rates of black cats and dogs in shelters.

“With dogs, this sad phenomenon is often referred to as ‘black dog syndrome’ because black dogs are routinely passed over for adoption in favor of lighter-colored dogs,” she says. “Large, black dogs are at an even greater disadvantage in the adoption process, and we hope this event will shine a spotlight on the plight of black animals in need of adoption.”

According to the Humane Society of the United States, an estimated 3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized each year. “Arkansas has one of the highest stray-animal rates in the country,” Younger adds, “and Arkansas shelters euthanize between 60,000 and 80,000 cats and dogs per year.”

To combat these staggering statistics, Younger says that CARE’s mission is to rescue and rehome cats and dogs facing euthanasia in Arkansas shelters. The organization rescues the animals and then places them with volunteers in foster homes until they are adopted.

The foster program is just one characteristic that sets CARE apart from many other animal rescue organizations. “While in foster care, CARE’s caseworkers and fosters observe how the animal responds to children, other animals and the animal’s general disposition so that we can determine the best matches for our adopters. When I casework a dog, I communicate with my fosters to learn whether the dog will play nicely with cats and children, requires a lot of exercise, sheds, barks, is housebroken, behaves well on a leash, responds to training commands, etc.”

In 2011, CARE expanded its rescue/adoption efforts by partnering with the Arkansas Department of Correction’s Arkansas Paws in Prison program, which places adoptable CARE dogs into state prisons for housing, socialization and training by inmates.

Another goal of CARE is to emphasize the importance of pet sterilization. The organization even provides low-cost spay/neuter services to the residents of central Arkansas via its mobile spay/neuter clinic.

According to Younger, in CARE’s 16 years, the organization has rescued more than 3,300 animals and assisted in the sterilization of approximately 10,000 pets.

As a self-proclaimed animal advocate and rescuer, Younger says she often struggles with the fact that she can’t possibly save all the animals who need help. “In those moments of doubt, I remind myself that saving one dog may not save the world, but for that one dog, the world will change forever.”

Her own Lola was one dog whose life was forever changed, when Younger and her husband Ryan adopted her from the Gentry Animal Shelter. “[We] adopted Lola after my first year in law school, and she brings more laughter and joy into our lives than I can describe. My father calls her an ‘Arkansas schnauzer,’ due to her carefree, country ways. I credit Lola for getting me through law school and keeping me (relatively) sane. I genuinely hope that everyone can experience the love that a rescue dog like Lola has to offer.”

Credit: Rett Peek

Younger’s relationship with CARE first began while she was in law school at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. “I spent my summers clerking in Little Rock, and I volunteered to show adoptable dogs on Saturdays at CARE,” Younger says. After she graduated and moved to Little Rock, she became a caseworker for CARE, matching adoptable dogs and potential adoptive families. “There is nothing more rewarding than placing a rescue dog into a loving home and experiencing the joy that the dog will bring into the lives of its new owners.”

And while Younger says “scruffy mutts” are just her type, she wants to debunk the myth that you can only adopt mix-breed animals from shelters and rescue organizations. “We rescue and rehome cats and dogs of all ages, breeds, sizes and colors,” she says. “Due to an overabundance of breeders and Arkansas’ lax spay/neuter laws, dogs ranging from tea-cup yorkies to great danes end up in need of rescue. I have caseworked pure-bred affenpinschers, schnauzers and shih tzus, just to name a few. Whether you want a fully-trained, adult goldendoodle or a scruff-a-muffin pup, the dog (or cat) of your dreams is waiting for you in a shelter or rescue.”

To learn more about Paws on the Runway, or CARE for Animals, call 603-2273 or visit

Paws on the Runway
When: 6-9 p.m., Thursday, May 1   Where: Governor’s Mansion
Tickets: $50 for general admission; $100 for runway seating; $1,000 for a table of six
Info: 603-2273,

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