By Heather Bennett
Dennis Wise, a local retired Sheriff’s Deputy, spends his free time creating items like birdhouses, carpenter bee traps, and bookends to raise money for animals and veterans. Wise, who grew up in Chicago amongst a family of Chicago firefighters, decided to go into law enforcement. He spent 11 years with the Civil Air Patrol in Illinois before making his way to Broward County. He spent time with a couple local police departments and eventually retired from the Broward County Sherriff’s Office after 20 years of service. Wise and his wife decided to move to South Walton after taking a vacation, and driving through the area. “I said to my wife, ‘You know what, in a couple of years this would be a great place to move to.’ So she found a real estate agent, he showed us two pieces of property, we took them and we went home until I retired.” Retirement didn’t last long. After two weeks living in South Walton, Wise started working for the South Walton Sherriff’s Office and continued there for five years before trying retirement again.
After retirement, Wise’s wife proposed the idea of using his time to make stuff to sell to raise money for veterans. “I started woodworking in high school and I loved it,” stated Wise. He makes bookends with 8-10 inch superheroes like Superman and Captain America, birdhouses made to look like the Alamo and Dr. Who’s Tardis. You can find his one of-a-kind items in Retail Therapy located in the shopping plaza on 98 just east of Louis Louis. You can make a custom request if you can’t find the theme or item you are looking for. All of the proceeds are donated to charity. “Retail Therapy has been absolutely wonderful in donating the space for me,” stated Wise. “I keep the prices real low because the faster they’re sold, the faster pets and vets are taken care of.” He said the community has really shown support. “This community has the biggest heart I’ve ever seen.” Wise donates to the nonprofit organization Kindness Ranch, an animal sanctuary in Wyoming that provides care and rehabilitation services for animals that were once used in laboratory research. They also work to find these animals foster homes and forever homes through adoption services. Paws for Purple Hearts, is another nonprofit organization that Wise contributes to. They specialize in canine assisted therapy for veterans with mobility challenges, PTSD or traumatic brain injuries. The organization was founded by Dr. Bonnie Bergin, who created the use of service dogs in 1975. They are the first organization to use canine assisted warrior therapy in which veterans help certified trainers in training a service dog for other veterans. Once the dogs have completed their extensive training they are placed with a veteran as a companion, or placed as a facility dog at a VA or military hospital, or work alongside specialists.
“I’m not making a dime,” said Wise. “I want to take care of the abused and abandoned animals, and the veterans. If people only realized how much the military has done for them! I can’t do enough for the vets.”
If you are interested in more information, you can visit the Facebook Page for Kindness Ranch Animal Sanctuary, pawsforpurplehearts.org or stop into Retail Therapy at 4552 US 98 Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. If you would like a custom order you can contact Dennis Wise at firstname.lastname@example.org or 850-267-2078.