PALMETTO -- It's often thought that dogs have an innate sense of when danger is imminent, when a storm is coming or when humans are in trouble and in need of help. For those who witnessed several abandoned dogs being joyfully released Tuesday from Manatee County Animal Services, there was no doubt the dogs knew they were bound for a better place.
Nate's Honor Animal Rescue in Lakewood Ranch traveled to the shelter in Palmetto to rescue adoptable dogs and cats, whose fates were otherwise unknown, in an effort to demonstrate why the community should consider donating to their organization during a 24-Hour Giving Challenge. The Humane Society at Lakewood Ranch is also taking part in the Giving Challenge, asking patrons to make a tax-deductible contribution to their no-kill rescue and shelter organization.
The 2014 Giving Challenge is a special fundraising opportunity over the course of just one day, where regional nonprofits compete for over $660,000 in matching dollars
and special grants from sponsoring foundations. From noon Tuesday until noon Wednesday, the community is being asked to donate $25 or more online to the local charity of their choice.
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As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, the Giving Challenge had raised more than $1.9 million for Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and DeSoto county nonprofits, according to the event's website. Nate's Honor Animal Rescue had taken in more than 410 donations totaling nearly $33,000.
Nate's Honor rescued a total of 24 animals from Manatee and Sarasota county animal shelters Tuesday, helping to free up much-needed space in these shelters and showing the public that lives can be saved if everyone pitches in to help, starting with a monetary contribution.
This is the second year the shelter took part in the Giving Challenge, hoping to raise money to help offset the medical costs of new animals coming into their adoption program, which can be thousands of dollars for surgeries, veterinary services and medications.
"We need as much as we can get because we're always struggling to make ends meet," said Karen Slomba, associate director of Honor Animal Rescue. "Our annual budget is about $450,000 a year, so we have to raise every penny of that."
Slomba says the shelter was set back by spending over $50,000 caring for the medical needs of 86 animals they rescued from the Napier case. The Manatee County Sheriff's Department seized at-risk animals Feb. 5 at Napier's Log Cabin Horse and Animal Sanctuary in East Manatee. Most of the animals hadn't been spayed or neutered, and many had heartworm disease, respiratory complications and severe dental decay.
"Once we take an animal into our program, we do whatever it takes to get that animal healthy. The veterinarians in our community are very pro-rescue, and they've been generous helping us with our medical costs," said Slomba, who decided they had room to take in 24 animals after 24 adoptions occurred at the Honor Rescue over the past weekend. The animals were a combination of mixed breeds and ages, and some had medical issues that needed immediate attention.
Manatee County's Animal Services Supervisor Nicki Bentley credited the Giving Challenge with its effort to reach the no-kill goal.
"It really does take a village to do this. We can't solve this on our own. We need the help of the entire community." Bentley said. But she cautioned that people should avoid adopting pets simply based on emotion. "Emotional adoptions are very risky because people don't think out the process and whether or not they can handle the responsibilities."
Lakewood Ranch resident Alan Anderson, who assisted with the animal rescue from Manatee County Animal Services, has been an Honor volunteer for about a year, when he's not busy tending to his own business, Bulldog Pools. Anderson says he was making a pit stop to McDonald's for cheeseburgers for the deserving dogs.
"No onions, just pickles, ketchup and mustard, and they love it. Then they go back to the Ranch and get treated and groomed and hopefully adopted," he said.
Donations to a local charity of your choice can be made online to the Giving Challenge at www.givingpartnerchallenge.org until the noon Wednesday deadline.
Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald.