Pet cause

KEARNEYSVILLE – Organizers of a fundraiser next week hope the event brings out local residents’ animal instincts.

The dinner – officially the “Animal Welfare Society of Jefferson County’s St. Valentine’s Day Purrfect Buffet” – will raise money for an expansion at the Leetown Pike shelter, where cats, dogs, kittens and puppies stay until permanent homes are found.

A no-kill shelter since its founding more than a half-century ago, space for homeless animals is always at a premium, explains Dixie Dunn, an AWSJC board member.

Animal Welfare Society of Jefferson County board members Dixie Dunn and Dottie Kracke spend time with Lincoln and George, feline siblings awaiting adoption at the no-kill shelter on Leetown Pike.

Animal Welfare Society of Jefferson County board members
Dixie Dunn and Dottie Kracke spend time with Lincoln and
George, feline siblings awaiting adoption at the no-kill shelter on
Leetown Pike.

“We have other fundraisers through the year, but this is the only one that goes toward our capital campaign – money we need to add onto the building,” she said.

The Feb. 16 dinner in the Skyline Ballroom at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races’ will be the fourth-annual such event, and Dunn and other supporters are hoping for a sellout crowd. The venue can hold about 250 people.

“It’s always an amazing, fun evening,” said Dottie Kracke, another board member who also serves as a liaison between the board and the shelter’s volunteers. “Wonderful food, a lovely setting, a lot of terrific items up for auction – and all for a good cause.”

The gala begins at 6 p.m. with a cocktail hour and silent auction. Dinner is served at 7 p.m. and the evening wraps up at 9 p.m. following a live auction. Tickets cost $45.

Proceeds from this year’s Purrfect will go toward renovations of the existing structure as well as an 880-square-foot addition, Dunn said.

The new space will be used to create an isolation room for incoming cats and dogs plus a space for sick and recovering animals and a special area for newborns and their mothers, she said.

The quiet, self-contained addition will have its own air exchange to prevent cross-contamination, according to Dunn.

The addition also will include a feeding station where meals can be prepared, a laundry area and a separate outside exercise space for dogs.

Dunn said the non-profit’s renovations committee, which includes architect Lyn Welsh and chairwoman Anne-Marie Kohlhepp, has been working for two years to hammer out details for the new space.

Kracke also is part of the renovations committee. She serves along with fellow board members Annie Roina and Scott Gordon and AWS members Bill Dunn and Kay Bresee. Ed Burns also was part of the effort until his death last summer.

To pay for the project, money raised through the shelter’s capitol campaign has been combined with grants from the West Virginia Community Partnership and the Jefferson County Commission.

Still, the shelter is counting on next week’s dinner to raise the rest of the funds needed for the project, Kracke and Dunn say. The shelter still has tickets available for the dinner and also can use additional donations of items or gift certificates for the auctions.

“We’re always thankful for all those who are there for the animals,” Kracke said. “We couldn’t do this work without our sponsors, our many business partners, the vets who work with us and our volunteers.

“There are so many ways an animal lover can help and we try very hard to find ways to include everyone who wants to be a part of this effort.”

The shelter, located on Leetown Pike not far from the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

Kracke, who handles the shelter’s Facebook page, often posts photos of newly arrived animals as well as longtime shelter residents so that the community gets a sense of the good that’s happening at the Animal Welfare Society.

“It’s a great way to connect,” she said.

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