Pausing for a great ‘Paws’

Published 9:35 pm Monday, February 3, 2020

The silent and live auctions held as part of the Suffolk Humane Society’s seventh annual Paws for the Arts Gala generated much interest and raised thousands of dollars for its programs and services.

Society board member Margie Wiley said it was a great night.

“It’s our largest fundraiser, so what this allows us to do is to continue our mission of helping with spaying and neutering in the city of Suffolk,” Wiley said. “It also allows us to continue our BARKS program, which is Books And Reading for Kids in Suffolk.

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“We go into the local schools and allow kids to pet therapy dogs, and they get a chance to interact with the animals and read aloud, so it helps them with their reading skills. It just allows us to continue to do our mission.”

Wiley said the society was appreciative of the artists and businesses whose items were a part of the silent and live auctions.

“It’s really for everyone,” Wiley said. “It’s not even that you have an extraordinary interest in animals. It’s an opportunity to bid on local art and support local artists. So, if you love animals, there’s something here for you, but if you also just love to get great art, you also have that opportunity as well.”

Lesa Dreps, a therapy dog volunteer and a teacher’s assistant at Elephant’s Fork Elementary School, brings her 4-year old labradoodle Remi to school on a regular basis. She said she spent about a year going through training to have Remi be certified as a therapy dog.

“They all know Remi, and they know that he comes on Fridays, so the little ones know when the day of the week is,” Dreps said. “They say, ‘When is Remi coming,’ and I’ll say, ‘Two more days. Two more days ‘til Friday.’”

The nonprofit Suffolk Humane Society connects the community with resources such as low-cost spaying and neutering. It provided more than 425 animals with forever homes in 2019, as well as more than $50,000 in medical care for animals.

Kay Hurley has been coming to most of the society’s events since its inception in 2007 as one of its original members. The event and the society has a special meaning to her.

“I’m so proud of this organization and how far they’ve come, and what a difference they’ve made for this community,” Hurley said. “Suffolk desperately needs advocates for animals, for animal welfare, and we have come a long way.”

Wiley and WVEC meteorologist Tim Pandajis were the emcees for the night, while Mike Duman was the auctioneer.

“This has evolved, and I think this has become an incredibly special event,” Hurley said. “It brings in members of the community, people who donate items. Animals can’t speak for themselves.”