MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- When Marsha Panuce lost her beloved husband Don, she became a woman on a mission to help pets who have lost their owners. And for that, she is our Amazing Suncoast Woman.
Marsha and Don never had children, but they had dogs that they loved dearly. So after Don's death, Marsha set out to create a place for dogs who outlived their owners. And Monday, that place took the next step to becoming a reality.
It'll be called Donte's Den after their beloved dog Donte that died before his time. It will be a state of the art forever home for dogs that outlive their owners.
As the shovels dug in at Monday’s groundbreaking, Panuce's dream was materializing.
Marsha was born in Chicago, an only child who loved animals and had a great musical talent. "My mother was a concert pianist. There was always music; she sat me down at four and she noticed there was natural talent to get me to American Conservatory of Music."
She was soon performing around the world. In Milan, Italy, the beautiful fashions inspired her. "I embarked on my 2nd career and I developed a fashion business."
She moved in the world of the rich and famous. Then love struck. "I met a Chicago boy in Italy; he was developing his business, which was an electrical manufacturing business."
They joined their lives and their businesses and moved to Sarasota. Marsha joined ABC 7, focusing on fashion, did a pet show on SNN, then returned to ABC 7 for her show that's getting rave reviews, Animal Outakes.
Marsha and Don didn't have children; they showered their love on their dogs. But they had one great worry. "We didn't have a family, we were career people, we were business people, we traveled. What would happen to our dogs if we weren't around to take care of them?"
They dreamed of a place that would care for dogs when their owners no longer could.
And when Don passed away from pancreatic cancer, Marsha set out to make their dream come true in his honor. "For us it is fulfilling the promise the owners have made when you take that dog, you make a commitment. That commitment is a life-long commitment for a dog. Unfortunately, sometimes we can't see it through, but Donte’s Den can be there."
And her life lesson? You need to have a dream, but that's just the beginning. "Then you set the goal and you work hard. I never found an easy way around anything; I had to work hard. But if you dream and set that goal, reality will come, and then the joy.”
Marsha Panuce is truly an amazing woman who thinks of everything. The groundbreaking included gold pooper scoopers. Now she's putting her heart and soul into Donte’s Den. Truly a community of joyful dogs.