Friday, July 24, 2009

Dog and cat lovers pony up

Animal Shelter fundraiser brings in more than $300,000

Express Staff Writer

Joseph Begovich, a 12 year-old Animal Shelter volunteer, poses with Bailey, adopted after the benefit.

The Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley's annual fundraiser, the "Dog Days of Summer," reached new heights this year.

The event at the Trail Creek Pavilion in Sun Valley on Friday, July 17, attracted almost 365 people and raised more than $300,000.

The community-supported shelter near Hailey is Idaho's first no-kill shelter, said JoAnne Dixon, executive director.

"We do not euthanize for space, and we do not turn away any adoptable animal from our county," Dixon said. "The key to our success depends completely on one essential factor—a community that is not only committed to the belief of the no-kill approach to sheltering but who actively supports and funds this belief."

The event included live and silent auctions that offered one-of-a-kind birdhouses created by valley locals. The silent auction also included a "fund a shelter need" section in which donors pledged more than $10,000 to fund day-to-day needs such as dog beds and surgical supplies.

The live auction featured two original paintings commissioned for the shelter by nationally recognized local artist Theodore Waddell. The shelter signature item, a trip to New York with a backstage pass to the Westminster Dog Show and an introduction to David Frei, the voice of Westminster, was so popular it sold twice.

The evening program featured an Animal Shelter Pet Parade and Barkin' Basement thrift store fashion show with Frei and Jan Main, the shelter's board president, as emcees. Three of the four shelter dogs in the parade were adopted the next day.

The shelter's youngest volunteer, 12 year-old Joseph Begovich, stole the hearts of everyone when he said, "I wish every animal could live in a home where they are loved and cared for. Until that is possible, I will continue to volunteer (at the Animal Shelter) and do my part to help make that dream come true for the homeless animals at our shelter."

Attendees donated more than $100,000 after Begovich spoke.

The evening ended with a raffle drawing for a $10,000 gift certificate to Atkinsons' Market, which was won by the Blaine County Hunger Coalition. Chris Block, one of the shelter's newest board members, purchased the ticket for the food-assistance organization.

The Animal Shelter and the Hunger Coalition have started a partnership program, "Paws for Hunger," to help keep people from having to choose between feeding their family and feeding their pets. Money donated to the Animal Shelter for this program is used to purchase pet food that is distributed by the Hunger Coalition to needy families.

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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