Forced to change its annual “A Tail To Remember” fundraising event in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society shifted its popular silent auction online this year.
The auction, a benefit for the Washougal-based humane society, began Oct. 9 and will conclude at noon on Friday, Oct. 16. Participants can bid on a variety of items, including a Hawaii vacation, a pet-pampering package, an Orchard Hills Country Club golf outing, seafood and more.
“In years past we’d have a silent auction, where all of the items are on display, and a live auction during dinner,” WCGHS Executive Director Micki Simeone said. “This year, the silent auction and live auction pieces are all mixed together online, so people can find the expensive stuff as well as the more midrange stuff all in the same place.”
The live-streaming, online event will be held at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, available for viewing on the WCGHS’ website.
“This (pandemic) experience has forced us to focus on our mission,” Simeone said. “We decided to create a very special video piece to give people a sense of ‘a day in the life’ from staff, volunteer and animal perspectives. We’re going to talk about the work that we do, and the fact that we can’t do it without all of the support. With this format, we can educate people about why their donation is not just needed, but meaningful. We’re going to make a very special, memorable live event.”
WCGHS officials have set a goal of bringing in $100,000 from the event, according to Simeone, who added that the shelter needs financial support now more than ever. More and more people are giving up their pets due to financial concerns caused by the pandemic, she said.
Earlier this year, WCGHS received a call from a local veterinarian about an 11-year-old German shepherd named Adi, whose owners could no longer afford to treat her chronic health issues and sought to have her euthanized.
“The vet called and said, ‘This dog has plenty of life in her. Aside from her thyroid condition and food allergy, she’s good. Can you help?'” said Simeone. “We said, ‘Sure. We are more than happy to take her.'”
After bringing Adi to the shelter, WCGHS employees gave her thyroid medication; changed her food; conducted physical examinations, which revealed a benign mass, later removed by a veterinarian; and posted a description and photos of her on the shelter’s website.
Adi was soon adopted by Jerry and Dena Rossi, of Vancouver.
“Jerry said that he wanted to give an older dog a good home, and these two match perfectly,” Camas resident Emily Rossi, Jerry’s niece, wrote in a letter to WCGHS.
Coincidentally, Jerry also takes medication for a thyroid condition and has a food allergy.
“We had just lost the black lab that we had for 10 years,” Dena said. “For years, Jerry said that he wouldn’t get another dog. But the black lab was attached to him 24 hours a day, so I think he realized that being without something at his side really made a difference.”
Adi — now named Jade — is doing well, Dena said. She loves to play ‘catch’ with Jerry, chew on squeak toys and relax on the couch, among other things.
“She settled in quickly,” Dena said. “She’s fit in really well. When she’s playing, it seems like she’s younger than 11 years old. She’s in good shape.”
Simeone said she is pleased with the outcome of Jade’s adoption.
“(Jade is) doing great. She has a whole new lease on life,” Simeone said. “We always want the pet to stay with its original owners if possible, but if we can’t make that happen, we try to come up with something else that’s a win-win for everybody. It was easier for Adi’s (previous owners) to give her up, knowing that she could be placed in a good home that could provide for her.”
The shelter is also preparing to accept an increased amount of animals that have been displaced by recent fires in California and other states.
“We keep telling our staff that we want everyone to know that we are a community center,” she said. “Well, this is it. We have to walk our talk and be proactive. The goal of $100,0000 is a stretch for us in the virtual format, but we need to be prepared and have funds to help with what’s coming to us that we don’t even see right now.”
The shelter is “rewriting (its) mission statement” as a result of the pandemic, according to Simeone.
“We’ve always been a no-kill shelter, and that will never change,” she said. “But things are different now, and the world is changing. People shouldn’t have to give up their pets because they’ve hit hard times. Pets are giving us love, companionship, therapy (and sense of) purpose now more than ever. Our mission has gone beyond minimizing euthanasia and finding pets homes. Now we want to keep pets in their (current) homes.”
Links to the live event and virtual auction are online at wcghs.org.