By David Rogers. October 5, 2019. BLOWING ROCK, NC — There are pets…and then there are pets. Both were the center of attention Saturday night in Blowing Rock.
COVER IMAGE: Who knew that Porsche made a diesel tractor? All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
There may have been drought-breaking rain and vision-imparing fog outside, but it was all bright lights, fun and frivolity — and meaningful fundraising for a good cause — inside Chip and Monica Perry’s “Car Barn”, where the Watauga Humane Society hosted An Evening With The Harris Brothers.
While one of Western North Carolina’s favorite music ensembles strummed and sang, some 250 patrons of the Humane Society ate, drank, gabbed, bought raffle tickets for valuable prizes and bid on even more valuable items in a silent auction — not necessarily in that order.
Asked about the planning and inspiration for the event, board president Alice Roess, a Blowing Rock resident, talked first about the non-profit organization’s pressing needs.
“We have a $760,000 annual operating budget,” explained Roess, “and we only get $80,000 from Watauga County to perform these vital services. That means we have to beat the ground for the balance. It comes from our generous donors who understand and believe in our mission. Our financial needs must also be met from fundraiser-type events like the annual Fur Ball, WinterPaws during WinterFest, and this, our first An Evening With The Harris Brothers.”
Roess explained that the Perrys are both already big supporters of the Humane Society and when approached about using their recently constructed Car Barn as a venue for a fundraiser, they readily agreed.
“Monica told me that if the event works, she’d like us to stage the event here every year,” Roess shared with Blowing Rock News.
The Car Barn is without a doubt a special place. Not only is it beautifully constructed and designed inside and out, it houses a collection of more than 20 antique and classic automobiles (sorry, we didn’t count to get an exact number), including top imported brands like Porsche, Mercedes, MG, and Volkswagen, among others.
Perry shares a history with cars, so it is not surprising that the graduate in civil engineering from the University of Virginia with an MBA from Harvard Business School would have a much-valued collection.
In 1997, according to a 2015 Wall Street Journal article, he was the first employee of AutoTrader.com and served as the company’s chief executive officer until 2013. During that time, AutoTrader became the largest third-party vehicle shopping website, with over $1.5 billion in annual revenue. Previous to AutoTrader, he worked in Los Angeles for the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. and the business development arm of the Los Angeles Times. From 2013 to 2015, he was president and CEO of RentPath, then joined TrueCar.com as its President and CEO in 2015. He served in that capacity until he retired in early June of this year. He remains an advisor to the company. TrueCar is a publicly-traded company (Symbol: TRUE), while AutoTrader is now a subsidiary of Cox Automotive, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises, Inc., a privately held global conglomerate.
Looking at Perry’s collection in the Car Barn, it is no wonder that the Humane Society guests were oohing, ahhing, and breaking into big smiles.
In 2019, Watauga Humane Society is celebrating its 50th year of rescuing and caring for unwanted and abandoned animals in the region. They provide food, shelter, medical care, and especially through a legion of willing volunteers, a lot of love to otherwise homeless pets — until they find their “forever home” through adoption. The Humane Society also helps with the control of unwanted animals by offering low-cost spay and neuter services and offers education to the public about responsible pet ownership and care.
Charles Duke, a former Watauga Humane Society board president told Blowing Rock News in 2016, “We don’t choose which animals to save. 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.”
Dogs and cats make up most of the animal population served by the Humane Society, but other, more exotic pets have found their way to shelter and often rehabilitation at their facility. Previous Blowing Rock News research revealed that there have been years when more than 2,000 unwanted or abandoned dogs and cats have been brought in or rescued by the Humane Society, often working hand-in-hand with the County’s Animal Control unit.
According to the Watauga Humane Society website (CLICK HERE), so far this year there have been 987 adoptions from the facility. Just from January through April, 449 animals had been taken in:
- 149 — Stray
- 109 — Seized, Custody
- 108 — Owner or Guardian Surrender
- 50 — Return
- 33 — Transfer In
According to statistics reported on the national Humane Society website, the 92-member reporting organizations in North Carolina took in more than 146,000 dogs, cats and other pet animals just between January 1, 2018 and May 20, 2019.
In the full calendar year 2018, the 2,873 reporting organizations across the U.S. took in more than 900,000 dogs and more than 920,000 cats (1.8+ million animals total).
“Think about the numbers,” Roess pointed out to Blowing Rock News. “Left unchecked, all of those stray, unwanted and abandoned animals would be running around our neighborhoods and commercial streets, foraging for food and potentially representing significant harm to both children and adults in their desperation. They would be more than a nuisance and the problem would simply spiral out of control.
“But beyond that,” Roess added, “we know that these animal pets are smart and intelligent. They each have personalities, just like people. Domesticated, they can’t fend for themselves very well. In short, they need to be cared for, nurtured, and loved.”
Watauga Humane Society can be reached at 828-264-7865. The shelter is located at 312 Paws Way, Boone, NC 28607. The website is www.wataugahumanesociety.org.
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