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A night for lovers of animals

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It may have been Valentine’s Day, but those in attendance at Monarchs, Mutts and Meows were focused on their loves.

By Lisa King

For the fourth year in a row, animal lovers turned out in droves to pack Claudia Sanders Dinner House to raise money for animals.

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“Are we sold out – are you kidding?” said Kate Raisor, glancing around at the horde of 350-plus patrons, mostly decked out in various hues of red, pink and black, milling around the banquet room Friday night.

“We sold out a week ago,” said Raisor, volunteer coordinator for the Monarchs, Mutts and Meows fundraiser, joint production of the Shelby County Humane Society, the No-Kill mission, Operation CatSnip, Woodstock Animal Foundation and Tyson’s Chance, five animal rescue groups that teamed up in 2011 to form 5Rescues.org, with the money raised being divided among the five organizations.

There is no official word how much was raised, but based on ticket sales alone, proceeds would exceed $15,000. And then there was the were the proceeds from a silent auction and Valentine photographs taken by Sara Miles-Jewell for $12 each.

What has made the event so popular it has been a sell out since its inception?

Well, the ambiance was certainly appealing, with colorful silent auction items lining two walls of the room, with everything from gift baskets to artwork, and servers tantalized diners with everything from enticing entrees to delectable desserts. Then there was the 1960s and ‘70s music of the popular Louisville band The Monarchs, who played from 8 to 11 p.m., cranking out tune after tune with a dance contest that began at 10 p.m, won by Tina Alvey of Shelbyville.

To top all that off, Dawne Gee, guest host from WAVE-Channel 3, added her own special brand of charisma to the event.

But the main motivation among those who turned out on the most romantic day of the year to spend Valentine’s Day at the event was to show their devotion for homeless animals.

“This is for them,” said Denise Johnson of Shelbyville, nodding toward a photo adorning a table of a big-eyed dog up for adoption. “We are here to show our support for the Humane Society and the other groups.”

“That’s right, we think this is a very good cause,” said Johnson’s friend, Chris O’Leary of Middletown.

Denise Logsdon of Louisville grinned as she surveyed the room.

“Marvelous food, marvelous people, marvelous everything – what more could you ask for?” she said.

Bartender Kirstin Redmon said the most popular drink of the evening turned out to be the 5 Rescue Rendezvous, a drink especially created for the event, consisting of vodka and cranberry and orange juices.

“Everybody loves it!” she said. “I’ve made a ton of them.”

The event was supported by 12 corporate sponsors and 82 other businesses, groups and individuals who contributed time, effort and money to the fundraiser.

“We truly appreciate your support for the animals tonight,” Raisor told the crowd just before the dancing began. “It means so much to us.”