Joel Burkey and Abilene, a rescued greyhound, showed up ready to strut around an elegant event hosted by the Washington County Humane Society called the Dogwood and Cattails Ball held at the Millennium Centre Saturday.
“It’s so she can steal the show,” said Burkey about Abilene’s black with gold-trim costume. “She likes the attention.”
Burkey said he and his wife Jaeda came to support the organization’s cause and give Abilene time to socialize.
“It’s kind of neat that you can bring a dog out to something formal like this,” Burkey said. “Sometimes a few cats show up, but mostly it’s dogs. It’s pretty neat.”
Cathy Bolton, a member of the Humane Society and chair of the ball, said there is an important goal to reach by hosting the event.
“More than anything we want to bring awareness to our cause and to raise the money to help,” Bolton said. “We help the residents of Washington County that need assistance to spay and neuter their companion animals. The goal of doing that is to lower the kill rate at our shelter and that’s done through spay and neuter.”
Ashley Cox, an Appalachian Animal Hospital staff member, said she enjoys seeing the community come together to learn about animal-realted resources that are available.
“It brings awareness that there are people out there who can help,” said Cox.
Animal Shelter Director Debbie Dobbs said the event has been very successful in lowering the number of animals coming into the shelter.
“This is our largest fundraisier of the year and it’s a happy gala not only for the dogs, as you can see, but the people,” Dobbs said.
Dobbs said she has been able to see the difference the event makes in the community.
“We knew it would take a few years before we started seeing the numbers go down in our community of unwanted litters,” Dobbs said. “It’s making a very large difference this year.”
Unique to this year’s event, Dobbs presented the rendering of the new animal shelter building, which has been approved by the board.
“I took this opportunity to show the rendering of the new animal shelter,” said Dobbs, who explained the structure would be built in phases.
During presentations, the outstanding animal award was given to a Belgian Malinois named Juno, which gives pet therapy to Lucas Hembree, who has San Filippo Syndrome.
The event organizers also took time to recognize noteworthy people in the community who support animal-related initiatives.
“We actually award a couple of honors,” said Bolton.
Jim and Brenda Mooneyhan were named Humane Heros for their rescue work and Washington County Commissioner Joe Grandy and wife Lucinda were named honorary chairs of the event, Bolton said.
The night’s action also included dinner, a doggie fashion show and silent and live auctions.
Proceeds collected from the event fund the Humane Society’s spay and neuter fund and the emergency medical fund for the animal shelter.