By David Rogers. August 13, 2016. BLOWING ROCK, NC — Some dogs come with broken legs. Others come after having been shot. Still others come because they have simply been abused, even left chained up outside in the dead of winter. Even more are left with the Watauga Humane Society because their owners either don’t want them anymore or simply can no longer care for them. These are things of which a sold-out crowd of Humane Society supporters were reminded Saturday evening at the Blowing Rock Country Club hosted “Fur Ball,” which is now 20 years old.
It is a big fundraising event, but the Fur Ball’s impact is probably felt even longer-term because it reminds people of the pressing, even growing need for an organization and facility for taking care of abused, unwanted and abandoned pets.
“We don’t choose which animals to save,” Watauga Humane Society Board President Charles Duke told a crowd filled with High Country community, business and civic leaders. “We take all that come to us. Even if they have been shot, have eyes poked out, or are hobbling on broken legs, we take them in and try to rehabilitate them. But most importantly, we try to place these animals in loving ‘forever’ homes.”
We don’t choose which animals to save. We take them all.
Duke told the story of “Zeus,” a mixed breed dog that one Humane Society patron took legal action to rescue because the owner had him chained up outside, in winter. “This dog was obviously in distress, chained up outside in the middle of winter, day and night. Here is a picture of Zeus in January, and here is an ‘after’ picture of Zeus today.”
The Watauga Humane Society is a well-equipped and appropriately staffed facility where unwanted and abandoned animals can find refuge. The paid staff and a legion of volunteers dogs, cats and other animals relief from their suffering, providing food, shelter, medical care and love while they await permanent homes.
“We have a lot of students from Appalachian State University,” Duke told the audience, “who come out to simply walk the dogs and show them some love. They care. In some cases, they are missing their own pets back home and this fulfills a need in their lives.”
One of the more poignant moments of the evening was North Carolina House Representative (District 93) Jonathan Jordan’s introduction of North Carolina’s “First Lady,” Ann McCrory, who not only reflected on her rescue of “Moe,” but also told of Rep. Jordan’s and Rep. Jason Saine’s (District 97) efforts to pass legislation in the General Assembly to regulate “puppy mills.”
Co-sponsored by Saine and Jordan to establish dog breeding standards and provide for law enforcement tools, last year the legislation was reportedly passed by the House, 114-6, but it died in the Senate.
For the abusive breeders, the only purpose for these dogs’ existence is to breed and produce litters of puppies, for profit.
“These puppy mills are everything except humane,” McCrory told Blowing Rock News afterwards. “The only purpose for these dogs’ existence is to breed and produce litters of puppies. They are kept caged up or chained up in small spaces, surrounded by their feces. Usually they are AKC-registered animals. The breeders don’t let buyers come to their facilities, but instead will sell the puppies over the Internet or along the side of a road or in a shopping center. All the kids and their parents see are cute little puppies. They don’t see the conditions under which these puppies were brought into the world, simply for profit.”
Jordan (Ashe and Watauga counties) and Saine (Lincoln County) also sat down with Blowing Rock News as the Fur Ball was winding down. Saine explained, “Even though our legislation is specifically aimed at canines, there is apparently a fear in the agriculture industry that if the puppy breeding industry gets regulated then hogs and cattle and other livestock will be subject to even heavier levels of regulation.
“When I first brought this up,” Saine recalled, “I was told that I was writing the death notice of my career as a legislator. Well, I am still here. Where you have breeders with 10 or more animals owned simply to breed for profit, there need to be standards for their humane care.”
Besides dinner, dancing, and stumping for better regulation of breeders, highlights of the Fur Ball included:
- A live auction featuring dinner and lodging at Blue Ridge Mountain Club northeast of Blowing Rock; a “stay-cation” at New Public House in Blowing Rock; wine and dinner for six with chef and host Steve Duprey and Steve Wylie, communing with nature overlooking 80 beautiful acres (and visiting their donkeys); a private tour of the Turchin Art Center; and a large, cherry wood bowl carved from a local tree. Nearly $10,000 was raised.
- Doogies Hope, established by Blowing Rock residents Patsy and Ronny Turner in honor of their beloved pet. The couple donated a total of $2,400 to purchase enough food to feed all of the Adoption Center animals for the months of October and May while challenging others to “adopt” other months at $1,200 each. According to organizers, all months were sponsored.
- Glynda’s HEART (Help Each Animal Receive Treatment), honoring Glynda Valentine and her life-long dedication to animals and their care. Donations help fund general medical and preventative care for Watauga Humane Society animals, including immunizations and medications.