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Shelby County’s animal welfare workers and volunteers will be celebrating this evening at the Claudia Sanders Dinner House – but they also will be focusing on a big job ahead.
The event is the fourth Monarchs, Mutts and Meows dinner dance fundraiser, with proceeds being shared by the five county organizations that work to rescue stray or deserted animals and find them new homes.
The good news is that the event has been so well supported. Tickets have already sold out.
“We are very grateful to those who have purchased tickets,” said Vicki Moore, executive director of 5Rescues.org. “We have had a lot of corporate sponsors step up this year. We’ve had twice as many corporate sponsors this year. We have had a huge outpouring of donations, and our silent auction items are going to be really, really nice this year with a lot of additional items that we haven’t had before.”
5Rescues.org is the fundraising arm of the five groups operating within Shelby County for the welfare of animals. Operation CatSnip, the Shelby County Humane Society, the Shelby County No-Kill Mission, Tyson’s Chance and Woodstock Animal Foundation, which will split the proceeds from this event.
And Moore said that there remains much work to be done. Despite the relatively small size of Shelby County, there are so many stray or discarded animals in the county that five different organizations are fully engaged in trying to take care of them.
“We are trying, all of us, to get the word out about spay or neuter,” said Moore. “It is a myth that a lot of people believe that ‘if I spay/neuter my animal, it will become lazy and fat.’ A lot of people in the county want their dogs to be working dogs, and they’re afraid that this is going to happen. [But] there is no test that has been done to prove that it makes the dogs lazy and that they won’t work anymore. We really want to get the word out to the public to spay/neuter.”
The Web site of the National Humane Society of the United States also echoes this message, noting that each year throughout the United States, between six and eight million homeless animals enter shelters every year. Only about half of these are able to be adopted. The other half, unfortunately, have to be put down.
The Web site points out that although many pet owners can’t imagine their pet’s puppies or kittens ending up in a shelter, the reality is that every time their animal slips under the fence to meet a neighbor’s pet, there is a chance that another litter will result.
Moore notes that even if a pet gets under a fence once, that many can be prolific breeders.
“We had one last week that produced eleven puppies,” Moore said, noting that eight is not uncommon. “That  is unusual, but [it was] eleven. Then when you count in that if they don’t get spayed or neutered, and especially with cats, they can have many litters in one year.”
Here in Shelby County, animal welfare workers have a “no-kill” policy, which means that they must find homes for the animals that pass through their doors.
And although cats and dogs are the most common, horses also find their way into care, and last week the Shelby County Animal Shelter took in two domesticated rabbits who had been released into the wild by their former owner.
Moore said she is proud of the no-kill policy, but she also notes that it is part of the reason that all five groups under 5Rescues.org are overflowing with animals in need of homes.
“It is a good problem to have,” she said, “but it puts and extra strain on fundraising efforts. It means more food, more litter, more hay, more manpower to clean up. You wouldn’t believe the paper towels we go through every day. We have FFA students coming in to help us walk the dogs and get them out for exercise. That’s hard to do in this weather.
“But the hard part is finding enough volunteers on a regular basis to help us succeed in all of our missions. If we have people who can only give us one day a week, or even one day a month, we’ll take it.”
The heavy load is helped by animal lovers who provide foster homes for animals. This provides a temporary home for an animal but without necessarily making a long term commitment. Moore recommends it for people thinking about getting a pet, but not sure of what they will like, or whether they will be able to provide for it.
“You can come down and take a pet, and foster it, and see how it works out for you,” she said. “If it doesn’t work, don’t be nervous about bringing it back and trying another one. Our doors are always open for people who want to try fostering. We will provide all the support for people who want to foster, all the medical care. We just ask that they give them a warm lap to sit in or a nice warm bed to lie in, and a little bit of love and attention.”
For those who are looking for a pet for a long-term companion, Moore encourages adoption of an animal currently housed in a shelter. She notes that the full range of pets, from purebred to mongrel, can be found in a shelter, and even if you are looking for something very specific, there is a good chance you will find it there.
“I would urge anyone looking to adopt to come to look at your rescue groups first,” she said. “If you’re looking for a particular breed, there may be one here, and it would help get that animal into a home right away. I’m not opposed to breeding – I have two purebreds myself, but I also have five rescues that are all mixed, and I love them just as much as I do my purebreds.”
To help with the process, 5Rescues is working hard on its social media presence. The group has a Web site (5rescues.org) and a Facebook page, and are also advertising animals available for adoption with agencies that offer national coverage. And members also are working on additional fundraising activities throughout the year, such as an event at the Smith-Berry Winery in New Castle for the summer, and also, if enough volunteers can be found to help organize it, a Halloween party for later in the year.
Moore also has a request for all animal – pet and working animal – owners specific to the current climate.
“There is no outside animal, even if they are used to being outside, that is comfortable in sub-zero temperatures,” she said. “Even if you have to make a bed in the garage, or a barn, or something, get them out of the elements.”
Monarchs, Mutts and Meows
WHAT: Fundraiser for 5Rescues.org
WHEN: 6 p.m., today
WHERE: Claudia Sanders Dinner House, 3202 Shelbyville Road
MORE INFO: Call 655-3442 or visit www.5rescues.org