A love for animals and concern that many lost dogs and cats in Smith County were being put to sleep each week led 14-year-old Nicholas Nash to create a Facebook page to help families reconnect with their pets.
But Nicholas didn't stop there: Instead, he announced to his family he wanted to open up a no-kill animal shelter named Nicholas’ Pet Haven Shelter and Dog Park in Smith County to help alleviate the need to euthanize animals.
His mother Cindy said it all began when the family helped a good friend find a replacement pet after his had died.
Nicholas, who was 13 at the time, decided to create a Facebook page called “Lost and Found Cats and Dogs of Tyler, Tx.”
"Animals need to be saved. That is what this is about," he said.
Over the next few months the page helped reunite countless pets with their owners, but also drew interest from other animal lovers like Tyler businessman John Carrasco.
Carrasco, who had worked to help lost pets in Chicago, said after moving back to East Texas he saw a need for a no-kill shelter and for all of the rescue groups in the area to work together.
Carrasco met with the Nash family and learned Nicholas was being granted part of his inheritance early, a 20-acre parcel of property located on Interstate 20 at Farm-to-Market Road 2015.
"What sparked my interest in this project was that a 14-year-old boy had the vision and was willing to give up his inheritance to do this," he said.
The proposed dog park and shelter is set to be built on the 20 acres with phase one of the project including a small shelter, a welcome center along with large and small dog runs.
The group's first fundraising effort is this Saturday with an auction at The Forum at Broadway Avenue and Front Street.
The Nash family said they have antiques, a bass boat and trailer, 19th century oil paintings, and other items and selling raffle tickets for a 55-inch television. The preview is set for Friday from noon to 6 p.m. and the auction is set for Saturday at 10 a.m.
Nicholas said he hopes the community will come out and support his dream.
Carrasco said meetings are being held with county, city and other officials to make the dream become a reality.
“Our effort is to enhance other services and not to compete with them. We all need to work together,” he said.