Arts and Entertainment

An auction for fans of four-legged friends

This fiberglass cat was embellished by Brian Fisher. - Courtesy photo
This fiberglass cat was embellished by Brian Fisher.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Vashon Island Pet Protectors is hoping an army of animal lovers will attend its upcoming Fur Ball auction and raise not only their auction paddles but also their glasses to celebrate a significant milestone in the rescue organization’s history.

Appropriately enough, the theme of the event is “Stayin’ Alive” — a reference not only to VIPP’s compassionate “no kill” policy, but also to the fact that this year marks the nonprofit’s silver anniversary on the Island.

According to Nancy Foster-Moss, who is coordinating the auction, VIPP is pulling out all the stops to celebrate its 25 years of providing service to Island dogs, cats and a host of other critters both great and small.

“We’ll have lots of fun changes,” Foster-Moss said, adding that she is especially excited the event will be held for the first time ever in the capacious Open Space for Arts and Community, also known as “O.”

An impressive array of donors has stepped forward to donate high-end items for the auction that include an African photo safari, an airfare-included trip to a guest ranch in British Columbia, a weekend cruise on a private yacht and a new motorized scooter.

For auction-goers on a budget, there will be chances to purchase hundreds of other more modestly priced items, including class time at what Foster-Moss called “VIPP U,” a series of educational opportunities that Island teachers have arranged especially for the auction. Seats in nine different classes, ranging from cooking instruction to bird-watching classes, will be up for bid.

Foster-Moss also hopes auction-goers bring their appetites to the party.

“There will be an abundance of flavors and tastes,” she said, describing the finger foods and appetizers that will be offered. She also said the auction will include a dessert dash this year, and wine will be provided by Vashon’s Palouse Winery.

Art will take center stage at the auction, with nine “ArtCats” — fiberglass cats adorned by a group of Island artists —  offered in the silent auction. The cats were created by Kristen Reitz-Green, Rebecca Wittman, Terri Fletcher, Sheila Park, Brian Fisher, Karen Hust, Clare Dohna and Elaine Summers.

Not to be outdone by the cats, a large fiberglass dog, tiled by Summers, will also be auctioned off.

Several other Island artists, including Margaret Tylczak, Morgan Brig, Greg Wessel, Harvey Bergman, Jan Wall, Eric Heffelfinger, Kira Bacon, Cynthia Zheutlin, Jean Emmons and Pam Ingalls, have also stepped up to donate works to the auction.

Barbara Drinkwater, who co-founded VIPP, said the auction is the organization’s biggest fundraiser and that the all-volunteer group is counting on proceeds from the event to offset increased expenses brought on by the recent economic downturn.

According to Drinkwater, the recession has wreacked havoc on the Island’s pet population, with an increasing number of families being forced to move off the Island and give up their pets.

“It’s almost a disaster,” Drinkwater said. “We have 15 dogs up for adoption right now — we’ve never had that many before. There are 75 cats in the system, and we can only house 45 to 50 at our shelter. All the other cats are in foster homes.”

Drinkwater also said VIPP spent more than $100,00 on medical and veterinary care for animals last year, up from $70,000 in 2007.

Despite the challenges facing VIPP, Drinkwater is proud of the group’s accomplishments during the past 25 years and hopeful for its future.

After consulting meticulously compiled records, Drinkwater said VIPP’s spay/neuter program has taken care of 5,420 dogs and cats since 1984.

“We’ve also returned 1,200 lost animals to their owners, and that includes lost cats and dogs, horses, a goat, a pig, sheep and one bird,” she said, laughing.

The group has also provided medical and veterinary care to 7,156 animals, and arranged adoptions for 3,000 cats and 1,000 dogs.

“It’s a great organization,” Drinkwater said. “It’s wonderful to be able to take care of our dogs and cats right here on the Island.”

The Fur Ball be 5:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8, at the “O” Space, 18870 103rd Ave. S.W. Tickets, $25, are on sale at Books by the Way, Vashon Bookshop, Fair Isle Animal Clinic, Pandora’s Box and www.vipp.org.

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