Put on your semiformal attire and be ready to enjoy dinner, dance to live music and bid on silent auction items to help build a shelter for stray dogs.

Fur Ball, the first of several fundraisers planned to help fund construction of the Jackson County Dog Shelter, is set for 6 to 11 p.m. March 5 at Pewter Hall in Brownstown.

Plans for the shelter were announced a year ago, and a committee was formed to come up with ways to fund the $200,000 building that will be behind the Jackson County Jail in Brownstown.

About $27,000 has been raised so far, and the full amount has to be raised by February 2017.

The shelter would take the place of Red Sky Rescue, a nonprofit dog shelter Ruth Riley has operated in Medora since 2008.

“Ruth Riley took this on as a hobby, and she’s got 60-plus dogs over there, and she has limited help,” said Michelle Stephens, who is helping with the Fur Ball fundraiser. “It’s so important for people to realize that we need this (new dog shelter). We need to raise money to get this up and running. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it.”

Fur Ball will feature dinner from Pewter Hall, games, music by the TOG Band and a silent auction. Tickets are $35 for a single and $60 for a couple, and tables of eight are available for $200. Donations are being accepted for the silent auction.

Stephens said Fur Ball came about after Heather Lewis searched the Internet for fundraising ideas. The committee also has plans this year for a voice competition, a battle of the bands and a 5K.

The committee also established GoFundMe and YouCaring accounts online and a tax-deductible fund at the Community Foundation of Jackson County.

Granite plaques, walkway bricks and lobby/adoption room blocks for donations ranging from $125 to $1,500 are available, too.

Even if the $200,000 fundraising goal is met, the committee will continue to raise money to support the shelter.

When Stephens was asked to be involved in fundraising for the shelter, she said she didn’t think twice about it, given her longtime love of animals. She currently has two rescue dogs and two rescue cats.

“It comes from my grandpa,” she said. “This man was the one that showed me that animals need love, and there are so many animals out there that don’t get that attention. They need that attention. It has been instilled in me since I was a kid, and if I can do anything I can to help out, I will. There’s no thought about it.”

Stephens said she appreciates Riley’s work but realizes she can’t continue to do all of the work that she does.

There is a second animal shelter, the Humane Society of Jackson County, but it only takes dogs and cats collected in Seymour by the city’s animal control officer. It receives operating funds from the city and through fundraisers and donations. It does not receive funding from the county.

If money is gathered for the new dog shelter, Riley wants to focus on helping place dogs and have someone else take care of the daily needs of running the shelter. She has a 93 percent success rate with placing dogs in permanent homes.

“I don’t know of a county that doesn’t have a shelter,” Stephens said. “Jackson County is too nice of a community not to have something like that. We need it. In my own personal opinion, the need is top of the list.”

Debbie Hackman has been leading the charge for the new shelter. In February 2015, she received a variance from the county board of zoning appeals for a low-kill shelter to be built on county-owned property behind the jail. The OK was given on the condition that there be a building permit issued and construction would begin within two years.

The county has a contract with Riley to house dogs collected by the county’s animal control officer until she can find them a home. That contract was supposed to be a temporary solution until a shelter was built, Hackman said. The county picks up about 20 dogs a month.

Once the shelter is built, the county will fund its operations with the $29,700 it currently pays Red Sky Rescue to house stray dogs.

The proposed 9,000-square-foot block building would be large enough to hold about 200 dogs, and it will rely solely on private donations.

Sheriff Mike Carothers will oversee the shelter, and low-level offenders at the jail will feed and take care of the dogs and keep the shelter clean. That way, the committee doesn’t have to pay a staff, and the inmates have a way of working and giving back while they are incarcerated.

The inmates won’t have any interaction with the public. But Carothers said there will be a benefit to inmates because they will have interaction with the dogs, and he can use the program as a reward system for offenders who show good behavior.

The dogs housed at the shelter will be picked up by the county’s animal control officer, who would have access to drive into the shelter to drop off the dogs. Animal waste will be eliminated through a drain connected to Brownstown Wastewater Utility.

Adoptions would take place on days when volunteers will be there.

If you go

What: Fur Ball, a fundraiser to help build the Jackson County Dog Shelter

When: 6 to 11 p.m. March 5

Where: Pewter Hall, 850 W. Sweet St., Brownstown

Cost: $35 for single, $60 for couple, $200 for a table of eight; tickets are available at K9 Campers and This Old Guitar Specialty Music Store, both in Seymour; Brownstown Veterinary Clinic and All About Pawz, both in Brownstown; or from any committee member

Features: Dinner, dancing, games, live music from the TOG Band and a silent auction; attire is semiformal

Information: Donations are being accepted for the silent auction; to contribute, call Michelle Stephens at 812-593-3949

At a glance

Donations are being accepted to help build the Jackson County Dog Shelter.

To contribute, visit gofundme.com/pfc6z8 or stop by the Community Foundation of Jackson County, 107 Community Drive, Seymour, or call 812-523-4483.

For information about the dog shelter, contact Debbie Hackman at 812-525-9367 or “like” Jackson County Dog Shelter on Facebook.

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.