Former Hermantown Mayor Donates New Book to Local Classrooms

Former Hermantown Mayor, Dan Urshan, is the Author of "Where's Duke," Now Being Donated to Local Classrooms in the Northland

HERMANTOWN, Minn. – When it comes to being in first grade, some real life topics are often tough to discuss with your children.

But with the help and creativity of one local author, it’s now easier for Animal Allies to step in and continue teaching lessons for years to come.

“Duke went missing in the middle of the winter in January of 1974. It was a very cold winter,” said local author Dan Urshan.

A classic photo and faded words from a 1974 edition of the Duluth Herald now helping to share a lesson in the classroom.

“I’ve been telling my kids and grandkids this story for many years,” said Urshan.

First graders at Hermantown Elementary recently received a glimpse into life lessons when it comes to humane education.

“I would love to get this book in the hands of every kid in the Northland,” said Urshan.

Urshan also happens to be the former Mayor of Hermantown, but he’s now focusing his efforts toward education.

“It’s a heartwarming story about a young boy who lost his dog and just wants more than anything else to get his dog back, and it happened,” said Urshan.

The plot of his tale, made true with real life events and a story perfect for print.

“A lot of the kids can’t believe that I’m the young boy named Danny in the story, but after I show them that I have my childhood hat that’s featured in the book and show them the news article, it kind of comes to reality that this stuff really does happen,” said Urshan.

A young Danny now sharing his story in the front of classrooms more than 40 years after his dog Duke disappeared.

“I’m just so thankful that after our dog was lost we were able to get him back and of course with the help of Animal Allies it just all made it possible,” said Urshan.

“This book really highlights four kids in a kid friendly way on how Animal Allies can be helpful and how kids can be helpful with their own animals at home and in town,” said Shawna Weaver, Humane Education Manager at Animal Allies Humane Society in Duluth.

Dan’s dog Duke went missing for weeks. After posting in the Duluth Herald and slowly losing hope, Duke was found, brought to Animal Allies and placed with a foster family.

Once news traveled fast, Duke was soon reunited with his owner thanks to help from Animal Allies.

“It’s all documented that they named him Super Dog and for us to be able to find our dog and get him back was just a wonderful feeling that I’ve had for many years,” said Urshan.

Now Urshan is urging teachers and educators from across the region to reach out and allow him to help teach a lifelong lesson of love and responsibility.

“My wife and I donated 1,000 books to Animal Allies for education, classrooms,” said Urshan.

Urshan will be making his way to as many classrooms as possible with the help of Animal Allies over the next few months.

“It is important for us to target every age group because as kids grow they learn there are more ways they can be helpful and it’s a great way to empower them,” said Weaver.

Lindsay Snustad, Executive Director of Animal Allies Humane Society released the following statement to FOX 21 News regarding this ongoing educational opportunity.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Dan Urshan on his book and think it’s an incredible story of love and determination. We can’t wait to get this in the hands of our young people in our community and beyond.”

Recently, guests who donated to the Animal Allies “Fund a Need” campaign at the 2018 Fur Ball Gala received a copy of Dan’s new book, “Where’s Duke?”

Animal Allies received more than $28,000 dollars for their education program and plan to use the funds to help branch out into more classrooms and also build a new educational center at the shelter.

Click here for more information about Animal Allies Humane Society.

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