by Dennis Dalman
For the first time in 19 years, pets and their people families could snuggle up together during the annual “Wine, Kibbles and Bids” fundraising event for the Tri-County Humane Society.
In previous years, the event featured a gourmet dinner, wine tasting and silent auction at the Gorecki Center on the campus of the College of St. Benedict. Last year, $80,000 was raised.
This year, because of the virus crisis, the event was an online entertainment June 18 that combined a silent auction, pre-recorded fun video skits and a telethon. Technical glitches marred the skits. Those skits, however, can now be seen and heard on the TCHS Facebook site.
The hosts/emcees of the virtual version of “Wine, Kibbles and Bids” were Brook Stephens, music director of Wild Country 99 radio; and Tauna Quimby, manager of fund development for the Tri-County Humane Society.
One of the whimsical skits was performed by the Lolmasteymaugh family of Sartell – parents Rachel and Ken and children Warner (videographer), Evie and Anna. On the video, titled “Rabbit on the Loose!,” family members are looking all over, high and low, in a frantic chase to find their missing bunny. Finally, they find their pet – a cuddly cloth stuffed bunny.
As of press time, the total amount of money raised was still being tallied. However, the TCHS Manager of Fund Development said June 22 that at least about $50,000 was raised at last count, including from telethon calls and the silent auction, which raised $16,098. In addition, TCHS board member Bill Nelson raised an astonishing amount of $33,223.41 – all from individual locations. Nelson encouraged friends, acquaintances and others to contribute to his TCHS online “funding jar.” Nelson, a private investigator, also owns a business that teaches martial arts. One of his young students, 11 years old, contributed the yearly savings of his spending allowances – a total of $399.
The money raised will be used for the TCHS’s medical fund. Last year, at TCHS, 2,350 surgeries were performed on animals, mostly for spaying and neutering. Almost 2,250 were spayed or neutered. Other statistics from last year included 3,668 animals adopted and 1,161 animals placed in foster care, thanks to so many foster “parent” volunteers.
Wine, Kibbles and Bids, Quimby said, is a perfect example of how the TCHS is “a movement comprised of animal lovers from throughout the area.” They include individuals, groups and supportive businesses, she added.
Many businesses contributed money and talents to Wine, Kibbles and Bids, including Mugsy’s Beans, Remedy Beauty & Body, Jules’ Bistro, Rinke Noon law firm, InteleCONNECT Inc., Wild Country 99, Big Cat Digital Marketing and Boser Construction, which is building the TCHS’s new facility.
During the telethon, Quimby and Stephens shared many personalized anecdotes about the importance of pets in so many people’s lives.
Quimby recalled a springer spaniel named Praline whose owners came to the TCHS sobbing because they had to give the pet up because they were moving to a place that wouldn’t allow for dogs. Praline has also developed a tumor, and the family could not afford the cost of treatment. TCHS took care of the tumor and other medical needs. Later, the tumor returned, and one of the dog’s legs had to be amputated because of it. After healing, she was her old self – running and chasing tennis balls, just as agile as any four-legged dog. Soon, she was adopted into a “forever home.”
During the pandemic, Quimby noted TCHS staff have become aware of how social-isolation safety measures, especially among elderly people, can make them feel lonely, disconnected and devastated. Pets, she said, can and do offer love, companionship and hope.
Quimby told about a woman named Kourtney, one of whose beloved dogs, Maddy Lynn, died, leaving the other dog, Mona, listless and lonely for her buddy. So Kourtney adopted a dog who was a quiet, frightened, timid dog at the TCHS shelter building. Back home after adoption, it took no time at all until Nalla, as she was named, became outgoing, friendly and a constant buddy to Mona.
Kourtney’s father had lived alone for 15 years, and she just knew he needed a pet companion, even though he said he’d never wanted a dog. Much as she hated to part with her “baby” Nalla, she convinced her father to take the dog for just a two-week trial period.
Kourtney wrote to the TCHS staff: “Nalla has changed my dad’s life since day one. I can’t tell you how many times he has thanked me. He said ‘You know Kourt, it seems you knew even when I didn’t exactly know what I needed.’ Although we missed Nalla, we knew her purpose was to be with my dad. The joy, companionship and love she brings to him far outweigh any sadness from us missing her.”
There are many ways to help TCHS: doing volunteer tasks; becoming a volunteer foster-care person; shopping at the TCHS retail store for pet toys, pet products and care items; adopting a pet; or donating to the TCHS building fund. A new $3.5-million building at the site in east St. Cloud is now under construction. It will be twice the size of the current facility. Almost $2 million of the cost has been raised so far.
To take a virtual video artist-conception tour of the new building, visit www.happinesshappenshere.org
Or to learn more about TCHS, visit its main site at www.tricountyhumanesociety.org.
Donations can be made on that site or checks can be sent to TCHS, 735 Eighth St. NE, St. Cloud, MN 56304.
The TCHS is open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Sunday, but for the foreseeable future it’s recommended that people call to make an appointment before visiting. The retail store, however, is always open during those hours, although the people allowed into the store at any one time must be limited.