One day, Lee Asher quit his job, bought an RV, and decided to travel across the continental United States with his six – yes, six! – rescue dogs to raise awareness for animal rescue.
Along the way, Lee helped hundreds of animals find loving homes. One of Lee’s last stops on his epic journey was Lagunitas Brewing Company TapRoom & Beer Sanctuary in Seattle, Washington, to attend a Pet Connection Magazine event supporting Seattle Humane.
While Lee’s decision to uproot his life might seem sudden, he had been drawn to animals and animal rescue for his entire life. When he was in eighth grade, Lee had a problem skipping school. But he wasn’t skipping for the reason that most teenagers typically do: he was spending his time at the Boca Raton Humane Society across the street from the school.
“My inspiration for animal rescue came at a very early age,” Lee recalled.
“I became way more passionate about saving dogs and cats when I found out about how many of them get euthanized every year.” While Lee’s heart was warmed by his clandestine shelter visits, his social calls to the shelter didn’t go unnoticed: he became highly allergic to his canine companions.
“I came home covered in hives,” he said, “but luckily, I grew out of my allergies.”
One of Lee’s current dogs, Molly, is from that same humane society.
While Lee is no longer a kind-hearted middle schooler, his enthusiasm for rescue still has a child-like ebullience – and it matches his stature. At the Lagunitas event, Lee towered over everyone else, his size was only eclipsed by his passion for “bringing action to animal rescue,” as he puts it.
Lee created his organization, the Asher House, to partner closely with local animal shelters and rescues to create events to showcase adoptable animals. “Ideally, we work with the animals who have been in the shelter the longest,” he said.
Lee’s inspiration for his epic continental US journey stemmed from his dogs and his fans on social media. “People are often so shocked about how well-behaved and beautiful my dogs are just because they are rescues,” he explained. “So I felt like it was a good idea to really show the world my bond with my animals while also showing all the amazing, loving beautiful adoptable dogs in the shelters just like mine once were.”
Lee’s journey covered 60,000 miles and took a little more than seven months to complete. While this epic trip was filled with memories, two in particular resonate with him.
“My two favorite stories are about fulfilling promises I made to two of my dogs while I would visit them at the shelter,” he said. “Lillie is my Saint Bernard I adopted at the South LA animal shelter. I went to visit her every day for three weeks and I would promise her that one day I’d take her on a big adventure and show her the snow. We hit a huge snow storm in Flagstaff, Arizona, and we were basically stuck. So I felt like it was the perfect time to go outside and play with Lillie,” he said. “I’ve never seen her so happy. It was beautiful.
“Stella is my beautiful pit bull. I promised her I’d run up the Rocky steps – the 72 stone steps in front of the entrance at the Philadelphia Museum of Art – with her in Philly with the Rocky music playing. When we got to Philly, we went right to the steps and had the best time ever because a bunch of people joined us. Then there was live music and everyone started dancing. Stella is a very strong, big, and powerful pit bull. She’s the sweetest dog I’ve ever met and it was great that so many random strangers in Philly saw her the same way I saw her,” Lee said.
He added: “Everyone was playing and dancing with her. Rocky Balboa would be proud.”
To learn more about the Asher House, visit www.theasherhouse.com.