Auction gets animal sanctuary closer to opening
Avena Parker was a bit shy and took to the dance floor with her doll, Mary, at the annual Heart of Idaho Animal Sanctuary fundraising dinner, auction and dance Saturday night. Tracy Barrett chats with Avena as Robert Hardy dances in the background to the music of local band Horsin’ Around. Later, Tracy’s shy son, Christian, was seen dancing with his mother and Avena. See more photos inside.
After dinner and the auction Saturday night the band Horsin’ Around played, and these youngsters danced and horsed around by forming a train and marching to the music all around the Legion Hall. Pictured are, from back, Christian Barrett, Avena Parker, Robert Hardy and Brooke Barrett.
Despite an uncooperative Mother Nature, another $6,000 was raised toward opening the Heart of Idaho Animal Sanctuary (HIAS) north of Challis at a Saturday evening fundraising dinner, auction and dance.
Crowds and cash were down this year compared to last because this winter’s heavy snowfall, followed by rains and the February thaw, led to avalanches that closed Highway 75 between Challis and Stanley, prevented loyal supporters from that area and Wood River Valley from attending. All three routes out of Sawtooth Valley were blocked for the second time this winter.
At the auction last year about twice as many enthusiastic supporters attended and bidding was competitive for donated items, said Tirzah Stuart, HIAS CEO and founder. This year, bidders got deals on items that went for less than their value. Still, Custer and a few Lemhi county supporters came through with donations. Not all stuck around for the auction.
After HIAS board members totaled up funds earlier this week, they realized Saturday night was not a flop. “We just had high expectations to exceed last year’s total. Given the weather, I would say we were still very successful.”
Another $60,000 is needed to finish, equip and open the no-kill animal shelter, Stuart said. General contractor Rick Forestier has been champing at the bit, waiting for the weather to warm and snow to melt at the 10-acre site north of Challis so he can resume work, Stuart said. The HIAS board has set the first of June as its opening goal, she added.
It was encouraging to see a table of Forest Service employees pool their resources and buy the first $900 dog kennel for the animal sanctuary, Stuart said. They were also enthusiastic bidders on auction items.
Although the smaller auction crowd raised less, people still spent money for a good cause. “That shows how awesome this community is.”
Two or three kennels have sold so far, said Stuart, and those who donated will get to see their names on plaques. A total of 22 kennels will be needed for dogs at the shelter. The shelter will also have a big room divided into sections for cats, with access to a screened outside porch. Kittens will stay in one section, mother cats and kittens in another and senior cats in a third section. Cats who like to be alone can stay in a dog kennel.
Many friends and supporters from Wood River Valley sent messages that they wished they could have attended the event, said Stuart. With this being the snowiest winter in Challis in memory, the HIAS board is considering moving the annual auction to March or April to hedge their bets. Even after the shelter is built, paid for and debt free, it will need fundraisers to pay for operating expenses.
The items people donated for auction, Stuart said, once again overwhelmed HIAS board members. “People donated some really great stuff. It was awesome.” Next year some might be offered in a silent auction or saved for a later fundraising garage sale.
Master barbecue chef Corey Rice cooked beef tri tip and chicken dinners, and people raved about the food, Stuart said. Sixty-one diners ate this year. Extra roasts were sold for people to take home.
“Everyone has been extremely kind,” Stuart said. “Corey did a great job. The food was delightful.”
Children were the most enthusiastic dancers after the auction, tripping to the tunes of local band Horsin’ Around and they also enjoyed playing in the dog kennel. Perhaps they should be the designated bidders at next year’s auction, with the adults writing the checks.