For five years, friends of the furry, the feathered, the fishy and everything in between have come together for one night of jubilant fundraising — Vashon Island Pet Protector’s Furball. It’s the nonprofit’s annual auction, and it accounts for more than half of its operating expenses each year.
Billed as the most “fantastique” Furball ever, the Aug. 2 event will feature silent and live auctions, finger food and accompanying beverages and live music by guitarist Daryl Redeker.
Picture the VFW Hall transformed for one night: “Cirque de bow wow — cats and dogs in hula hoops swinging around, rich purples and reds and a French decor,” said auction chair Kate Dunagan. “This year’s menu focuses on delicious bites, or as the French say, amuse bouche.”
Chef Lindsay Hart will prepare the bite-sized treats, and vegan chef Joanna Gardiner will be on hand to accommodate those with more delicate palates.
Auction items have come pouring in for the past few months. Dunagan said the selection of wines to bid on is varied, and there will even be a special “wine in the bag” feature, where people bid on mystery wines.
Other items include many pieces of art by such Island favorites as Pam Ingalls, Hita Von Mende and Margaret Heffelfinger, hours of gardening, a stone Buddha, hotel and seaside stays, homemade cheesecake and massages.
One interesting item is a dove tree, she said, which will grow to be 30 feet and is native to China.
“It gets these big, fabulous, white hankerchief-looking things on it,” Dunagan said.
This year, the auction has one-of-a-kind musical memorabilia: a Fender telecaster guitar signed by Pearl Jam and a drum head and sticks signed by Aerosmith. And, of course, there are tons and tons of cat and dog goodies.
She said Islanders may not realize how valuable Vashon Island Pet Protectors is and how much work they do in the community.
“Our general quality of life on the Island is raised for sure,” she said. “If you lose your kitty, there’s a poster on the wall. The work they do — it’s beautiful, and it’s long-term. They’re in the trenches morning and night every day, and they’ve done it for years.”
Kevin Joyce, Island auctioneer extraordinaire, will serve in his customary position; Geoff Fletcher will emcee. Some 140 volunteers will bring it all together.
Fletcher said it’s important Islanders “cough it up” for the 24-year-old organization on Aug. 2.
There are 70 cats in the nonprofit’s care, including mother cats with kittens, he said. Before any of those cats are adopted out, each one is nurtured to health.
“We pay for a physical for a cat or a dog; we make sure that its vaccinations are up to date,” Fletcher said. “If it needs treatment, and a number of the cats or dogs do, we pay for the treatment, and we also pay for microchipping.”
When an Islander adopts an animal that has been in the care of Vashon Island Pet Protectors, “everybody knows that it’s healthy, its shots are up to date, it’s been spayed or neutered … and that costs a lot of money,” he said.
Last year, the event drew 250 pet-lovers and raised $45,000; this year, event organizers are hoping to fill the VFW Hall to capacity with 300 attendees and bring in $50,000 to $60,000, Dunagan said.
All the money raised at the event will be spent on the organization’s operating expenses, going right back to the animals Vashon Island Pet Protectors serves, she said.
“Animal shelters, during times of recession, are hit harder,” she said. “We are facing increased numbers — people often have to relinquish their pets in times of recession. I’m hoping people will make a strong showing and realize it’s really for the cats and dogs.”