By Jordan Gerard
Pets are important members of the family, and losing one can be tough, but a new nonprofit organization helps homeowners protect pets and small kids from accidents during home renovations.
Oakley’s Oath started with that scenario. The Kessler family was having their roof replaced. Julie said she let their two Shih Tzu’s out in the yard, Oakley and Spex to go to the bathroom. The roofing company had placed a plastic tarp over their pool. She figures the reflection caught Oakley’s eye and he walked over the tarp. Kessler jumped in to save him, but it was too late, she said.
“That day I decided this can’t happen to another family,” she said. “My mission … I’m turning my pain into a purpose.”
Not enough communication was the downfall, she added. While contractors know their job well, homeowners know their home, but the gap needs to be bridged. It should include the number of kids and pets in the home and the family’s general schedule. For contractors, it should include a general description of how they run their projects.
The day after the accident, Kessler and a friend who works in public relations wrote tips and advice for increased communication between homeowners and contractors. She put it on Facebook and neighbor social media network Nextdoor and handed out fliers.
Oakley’s Oath began partnering with local construction and building companies too. They currently partner with Everlasting Window and Door, Allison Cahill and Partners and New City Promotions. The common goal is keeping pets and kids safe.
Even if homeowners aren’t renovating, it’s important to consider other events where communication can be improved. Realty showings, get-togethers, holiday celebrations like the 4th of July are all events that can be carefully planned for safety.
“I didn’t know the right questions to ask, you know, the right decision,” Kessler said. “We’re trying to inform homeowners … just please make sure you ask the questions. Your home becomes a hazard.”
Oakley’s Oath tips have saved at least one dog’s life, as featured on their website. Kona’s owner read the tips on Nextdoor. They were remodeling their backyard, and the contractor covered the pool with a plastic tarp. Kona’s owner kept a sharp eye out during bathroom breaks, but being curious, Kona walked on the tarp. The owner jumped in after, and managed to pull Kona out in time.
A big help in getting Oakley’s Oath off the ground was the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s in-house public relations firm, Cronkite Agency. The students helped design a logo, create a brand image and get the word out on social media. Eventually, the Kesslers trademarked Oakley’s Oath. Now, they’ve got a public relations team and one sole mission to keep everyone safe during home renovations.
Oakley’s name comes from the sunglasses company. The company’s owner named the company after his English setter, Oakley Anne. The name fit perfectly with Maury Kessler’s career as an optometrist. Oakley’s litter mate, another Kessler family pet, was named Spex (specs meaning eyeglasses). After Oakley passed, Spex passed two months later.
“I get to hear the name Oakley a lot, which is very important to me and always has a special place in my heart to hear that,” she said. Their current dog, Panda, brings joy into their home, though.
“He kind of reminds us of the other two and we have the pictures of them all over the house and we keep their memory alive all the time,” Kessler said.
Oakley’s Oath recently hosted a “Pamper Me + Pup” event in July fundraising at Pamr’d Soul in Scottsdale. The day featured local pet companies, a pet spa photo station, nail trimming and essential oils for pets, a treat sampling station and an exercise station. Ten percent of spa services from the day and any future appointments were donated to Oakley’s Oath.
The organization is planning its annual fundraiser event for Oct. 19. Details for that event will be announced on their website at https://oakleysoath.com/.
Top Tips to Increase Communication During Home Renovations
- Be aware of how many children and pets are in the residence
- Keep all doors and gates closed and locked whenever they are not in use
- Ask what chemicals and materials will be used, what areas to avoid and for how long
- Keep pets in a secure room or kennel when possible
- Alert workers of where pets normally reside and where children normally are in the residence
- Communicate if pets or children are planning to be outside
- Make sure all pets are microchipped and wearing a collar
- Upon daily arrival, check the designated workspace and remove any hazards in order to ensure a safe area for children and pets
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