What does it take to maintain a nonprofit organization that provides support for Clatsop County Animal Shelter’s homeless pets until they are adopted by families in the area?
“People who are willing to put their hands where their feelings are,” said Rae Zimmerling, a Gearhart resident who has volunteered there nearly 20 years.
Along with that, however, the volunteer-run organization relies on financial support from the community. Its Annual Holiday Party and Fundraiser takes place 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Fort George Lovell Showroom in Astoria.
From Fort George donating the space, to businesses and individuals providing raffle prizes and silent auction items, “the community is really pulling together” to put on the 20th annual fundraiser, volunteer and event organizer Marcy Dunning said.
Throughout the day, supporters can stop by to bid on items, buy tickets for the drawing, purchase treats at the bake sale, or have a photo taken with their pets and Santa Claus. They can also learn more about Clatsop Animal Assistance and what the organization has accomplished this year.
With the auction and raffle drawings open six hours, until 3 p.m., people have plenty of time to submit a bid, Dunning said.
Three of the raffle prizes: a roundtrip boat ride and lunch with a bar pilot for two; a GoPro Karma Quadcopter with a HERO5 Black action camera; and a gently used Yamaha Clavinova electric piano. If winners cannot pick up their items on Saturday, they can stop by Fort George to collect them Sunday.
The proceeds from the event are used to support animals at the county shelter. Clatsop Animal Assistance provides about $80,000 in funds to cover veterinary care, spay/neuter fees, medicine, cat litter, grooming, specialty-diet foods and other supplies not covered by the shelter’s budget.
A happy ending
The organization’s roughly two dozen volunteers provide a different type of support. Their donated time is used for hosting adoption events, providing advertising and promotional materials, tending to the cats, walking the dogs and other tasks.
“It takes a lot of hands and hearts to make a go of it and be successful,” said Zimmerling, who along with her husband, Bob, got involved when the organization was established as a nonprofit in the late 1990s.
Linda Dygert, of Astoria, started volunteering sporadically in 2001 — and more so when she moved to the coast full-time about 10 years ago. At first, she wanted to take all the animals herself to provide them with a permanent home. The problem, she said, is “you can’t do that — there’s too many.”
“You just have to find the best home for them,” she added. “And the satisfying thing is, you do.”
Although seeing the animals come in injured, sick or malnourished can be disheartening, Dygert said, “the good outweighs the bad.”
“We know their life (at the shelter) is better than the one they had before,” she said.
There is no limit on how long the pets can be sheltered; they remain until they get adopted. While there, however, they require constant care.
“The animals are there seven days per week, and they are in need seven days per week, so volunteering is well worth it to help them out,” Zimmerling said. “We just want to turn a bad story into a good story with a happy ending.”