Benzie County resident’s desire to help animal shelter lives on with donations

BENZIE COUNTY – An artist and author wants to commemorate her uncle’s love for dogs and the Benzie County Animal Shelter with an exhibit and fundraiser.

Illinois resident Tracy Ahrens said her uncle, Art Lezotte, has always had a big heart for the dogs and the animal shelters that take care of them.

“When he was here in Illinois, he always donated to the Humane Society shelter,” Ahrens said. “He adopted three dogs from there while he lived here.”

So when Lezotte moved to Benzie County, he started supporting the Benzie County Animal Shelter and adopted his dog, Buddy, from the shelter.

“I know he has donated to the shelter over the years,” Ahrens said. “He gave money or dog food. It was something close to his heart.

Ahrens said his uncle enjoyed fishing and camping and often took Buddy with him. She also said he worked part time at Frankfort Hardware.

Sadly, Lezotte and Buddy passed away in 2021, according to Ahrens. Buddy was euthanized due to his advanced age, and Lezotte died of cancer in April shortly after. Lezotte said she was unable to see her uncle before his death due to restrictions on COVID-19 visitors at the Traverse City facility where he was in hospice care.

However, Ahrens, who writes children’s books, said she was able to convey in a letter that she wanted to donate some of her books to the Benzie County Animal Shelter to help them raise funds. in his name.

“I spoke with Doreen Carter (president of the Benzie County Animal Welfare League) about donating some of my children’s books and the shelter could keep the proceeds for the shelter,” she said. declared. “I brought the books in August.”

The books “Sammy Sparrow’s First Flight” are available at the Benzie County Animal Shelter. An exhibition with photos of Lezotte and Buddy and their history accompanies the books.

“I started to think I wish I could continue helping the shelter because it couldn’t take it anymore,” Ahrens said. “I hope I can come next year and have a book signing.”

She also said Lezotte asked the executors of her estate to donate to the shelter on her behalf, and her obituary also called for any memorial donations to be returned to the shelter.

“It was a wonderful gesture of her to give us the books and help us raise funds for our organization,” Carter said of the donations.

Ahrens has also used his books to support other animal shelters. For more information visit

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