Scott Bentley has been rescuing animals since he was 7. He and wife Erin will have been married 7 years on Oct. 30. Their son, Asher, is 2.
The Bentleys run Bentley Salon, owned by Scott, and a Tampa animal rescue group called Hoodratz (facebook.com/hoodratz.animalrescue). They have four dogs of their own and usually up to three or four extra temporary houseguests of the furry kind.
By day, Scott cuts hair, trains and supervises at Bentley Salon on Kennedy Boulevard in South Tampa. Erin does the books. By night, and in between it all, they work together to foster stray animals and enlist their friends to take dogs and cats in.
“People call me, and if I’m not available, they call Erin,” he said. “Sometimes I feel as if Erin gets pushed into the shadows. It’s nice to know she will be recognized. She really is amazing.”
When asked Erin’s age, Scott responded, “343.7 years.”
Certainly, she gives the impression of wisdom beyond her years. Erin is calm, less reactive, where Scott is sometimes like the pitbulls he champions. He attacks injustices and can bark loudly when animals are mistreated. Erin is just as passionate but more stoic. She’s the backbone of the pair, researching, calling and doing the legwork needed to find dogs home.
What makes them work as a pair? “Our communication to each other is key,” Scott said.
“Clearly we both love animals,” she adds. (Oh, and Erin’s actually 33.) “We have a small zoo at our house. We share that passion. I was thinking the other day about how it is wonderful that we feel the same way about that. My friend was talking about how her husband would be less than happy if she just picked up a dog off the side of the road and brought it home. My husband wouldn’t have one unhappy thought about that. That is why we have four dogs and two cats. I couldn’t imagine not being able to bring home an animal in need for fear it would cause tension in our home.”
When Scott and Erin can’t take in another dog or cat, the two call a pool of friends. Some foster regularly; others occasionally. But many do their best to try. Call after call, they don’t give up until they can find someone who will take in the latest neglected, abused or starved canine roaming the streets or illegally tethered to a post.
Speaking of it being illegal to tether a dog, the couple, with the help of Barbara La Presti, worked long hours seeking legal assistance, wading through paperwork and dealing with commissioners to make that happen: Leaving dogs tied up or chained outside is now illegal in Hillsborough County. The County Commission approved the ban on Jan. 20.
The slideshow did them in, Scott said. “I ran the images [of tethered dogs] by Erin to make sure they would get the point across,” he said. “Sadly, there were many to choose from.” Erin is able to be more detached when dealing with the gruesome details. Their strengths differ and complement one another. “I am not emotional; my mother calls it Being Scottish,” Erin wrote in an e-mail.
“I am not a crier. I bottle up my emotions most of the time. I am very sarcastic. I also think of things in a technical way. I love math. Scott loves art. This is why we play the roles we do in the salon. He is artistic and does awesome hair and educates his staff and puts on a hair show all by himself with over 100 people involved.”
The couple has hosted community-minded events for the needy at the salon, and Bentley’s is the only local hair and beauty spot to host an annual hair show with an educational component in Tampa Bay. It’s called AMF for “Always Moving Forward” — Scott and Erin’s motto. The next one is scheduled to be held at Czar in February.
“One thing we have in common is that we love our kid about a million times over,” Erin said. “He has brought a whole new level to our world.
“We don’t fight. We have been married for seven years and I don’t recall a single fight. We may disagree, but it is never yelling, screaming, name-calling. Before Scott, I was a fighter. I dated some not so great people. When he came along he was a breath of fresh air. I have no need to be a fighter with him. We started dating in Jan. 2005 and were married by Oct. 2005. I guess we just work.”
Bat, the active, 1 1/2-year-old pitbull in the photo, was adopted soon after we took his picture. He was so friendly that we almost adopted him at CL, but that’s the way it is when you hang with the Bentleys. In fact, it’s kind of an occupational hazard — or maybe a perc — of working at Bentley Salon: Everyone who works there has adopted a rescued pet through Scott and Erin.