The Perfect Pitch

Baseball star Justin Verlander helps raise money for new animal shelter in Goochland. 

Justin Verlander claims national fame for playing baseball for the Houston Astros. But it was a different kind of pitch that led to a heartwarming victory at home. The 35-year-old and his wife, model Kate Upton, helped raise money—including making a $25,000 donation—for a new animal shelter in Verlander’s native Goochland County that will open later this year. 

“Giving back to animals is a huge passion for both Kate and myself,” says Verlander. “We wanted to contribute to the building of a nice new home for these animals, as well as a welcoming environment in which families are encouraged to adopt their pets rather than shop for them.”

The new 14,000-square-foot facility cost $5 million and will replace the 30-year old, 2,000-square-foot shelter. The project is a joint effort between Goochland County and the non-profit 50-member Goochland Pet Lovers, which raised $1.5 million; the county contributed $3.5 million. 

The current facility is over capacity, says Wayne Dementi, president of the Pet Lovers board of directors. The building lacks adequate air conditioning and heating, and volunteers are coping with strong odors. 

It was former County Administrator Rebecca Dickson who launched the effort to build a new home for Goochland’s rescued animals. But tragically, she did not live to see the groundbreaking last August—Dickson died from cancer in early 2017. 

Among those working hard to make Dickson’s dream a reality were Verlander’s parents Richard and Kathy. “The generosity displayed by so many in such a short period of time has been amazing,” says Richard. GoochlandPetLovers.com 

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