Eighteen local people recently found themselves in the doghouse.
To get out of “jail” at Chateau de Pique Winery on Friday, each person had to post “bail” of at least $500.
Fortunately, everyone was able to post their bail and help increase the funds raised toward building the Jackson County Dog Shelter.
The In the Doghouse fundraiser brought in $10,100, which made a few tails wag.
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“We are elated,” said Libby Kimmel, one of the nearly 20 members of the dog shelter committee. “We are very grateful to Chateau de Pique for allowing us to come, and we know there are all kinds of names that contributed to each of the (18 participants). We are just thankful to all of the public that participated.”
The fundraiser lifts the committee’s total to nearly $114,000. It will take $200,000 to build the facility the committee wants.
In early summer, Kimmel said the committee came up with In the Doghouse while brainstorming ideas for fundraisers.
The goal was to have nearly 20 people raise at least $500 apiece to bring in $10,000. The committee members then came up with a list of names of people to ask to participate.
Those who agreed to collect donations were able to spread the word about the importance of building a dog shelter.
“We had 18 feet on the ground telling people about the event and asking all kinds of people, so really, it was a way instead of just having a hub, it’s like we had spokes all over the place that could get out and tell more people,” Kimmel said.
Maggie Schafstall of Seymour and Karen VonDielingen of Brownstown were among the participants.
Schafstall said Kimmel asked her to be involved.
“I thought, ‘Why not? It’s a great cause,’ and I’m a huge animal lover, especially when it comes to dogs,” she said.
She collected $1,300.
“I sent letters to my family members and close friends and some local businesses asking if they would be interested in helping donate,” Schafstall said. “My goal was to raise $1,000, so when I realized I raised over that, I was extremely blessed with the support I received from everyone.”
VonDielingen said committee member Debbie Hackman knew she recently adopted a dog, so Hackman asked her to join in on the fundraiser.
VonDielingen decided to do it because she and her family have been around dogs for a long time, including being involved in the local 4-H dog club.
“We’ve just always been a dog-loving family,” she said.
“The event was fun,” she said. “I met several people I didn’t know just by being here to participate.”
Both women see the importance of building a dog shelter.
“I believe that having a countywide shelter would be extremely helpful,” Schafstall said. “Debbie showed me a video that really put it into perspective of how much our county needs something like this. It would benefit the county in more ways than one. I would encourage everyone to go watch it.”
With stray dogs being an issue in the county, VonDielingen said the new shelter should help.
“We need a place for them to be until they can be adopted,” she said.
Red Sky Rescue, a nonprofit dog shelter in Medora, has been operated by Ruth Riley since 2008.
The county has a contract with Riley to house dogs collected by Animal Control Officer Mark Deaton until she can find them a home. That contract was supposed to be a temporary solution until a shelter was built.
The county picks up about 20 dogs a month, and Riley typically has 60-plus dogs to take care of at once.
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 county funding.
In February 2015, Hackman 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 in Brownstown.
The building permit application was approved in February of this year, so the committee has until August 2018 to start construction, which could be as little as moving dirt.
When the shelter is built, the county will fund its operations with the $29,700 it currently pays Red Sky Rescue to house stray dogs.
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.
The proposed 9,000-square-foot block building would be large enough to hold about 200 dogs, and it will rely only on private donations.
The county sheriff will oversee the shelter. Low-level offenders from the jail will be used so the committee doesn’t have to pay a staff, and the inmates would have a way of working and giving back while they are incarcerated.
The inmates will benefit because they will have interaction with the dogs, and the program can be used as a reward system for offenders who show good behavior.
The inmates would not have any interaction with the public. Adoptions would take place on days when shelter volunteers are there.
Fundraising will continue even after the shelter is built. That includes the Fur Ball, which brought in nearly $24,000 in 2016 and $13,000 this year.
The third annual event, which includes a dinner, a band, a silent auction, a live auction and a cash bar, is set for March 3 at Pewter Hall in Brownstown.
Also that night, the winner will be announced for the committee’s current fundraiser, raffling off an Origin 12 shotgun supplied by FosTech Outdoors. Tickets are one for $20 or three for $50. Only 1,500 tickets are being sold, and they are available from any committee member.
Tax-deductible donations also may be made to the Jackson County Dog Shelter Fund at the Community Foundation of Jackson County in Seymour.
“If people will continue to watch for events that we’re doing, we’re going to try and keep ourselves accelerated toward the end goal and get this accomplished,” Kimmel said.
To make a donation to help build the Jackson County Dog Shelter, 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, “like” Jackson County Dog Shelter on Facebook or visit jacksoncountydogshelter.org.