Sit, stay, lei: Bow Wow Luau raises funds for animal welfare

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By Krys Estes

The ballroom of the Blockade Runner Beach Resort was filled with Hawaiian-themed threads on Sunday evening as guests watched authentic Polynesian bamboo dancing, bid in a silent auction, and ate island-style hors d’oeuvres while supporting the fight for animal welfare.

During the eighth annual Bow Wow Luau & The Cat’s Meow, an event that raises funds for local animal rescue facilities, guests learned from animal welfare advocates what they can do to protect animals in their homes and communities.

Trish Arnold, the event’s founder, said every five seconds a healthy, adoptable dog or cat is killed in the United States simply because it does not have a home.

“We are here to be their voice and to give them the opportunity to have homes,” she said. “We could all do something in order to work toward a time where all across America every cage is empty because every dog and cat has a loving home with a good family.”

Erica Geppi, North Carolina state director for The Humane Society of the United States, said they are trying to control animal cruelty on a large scale.

“The harsh reality is that despite all of the hard work of these organizations, we still find ourselves euthanizing over 106,000 pets statewide and 3 million nationwide,” Geppi said.  “It’s absolutely heartbreaking.”

Geppi said the substantial problem with puppy mills in North Carolina aggravates the necessity of euthanasia. Breeders are producing litter after litter of puppies, prioritizing a profit over the welfare of the animals, she said.

“We have taken over 30 large-scale puppy mills in North Carolina in the last five years alone,” she said.  “North Carolina is one of the top three worst states for puppy mill cruelty.”

Geppi said the North Carolina House of Representatives recently passed legislation that would set regulations on breeders, as House Bill 159 is currently under consideration by the Senate.

“Breeders come from other states to North Carolina because we don’t have these regulations like other states,” Geppi said. “The part of my job that I love is getting the opportunity to travel statewide and meet the true heroes that are working on the front line to save homeless pets across the state and here in the community. I hope we see in our near future that euthanizing healthy animals is a thing of the past.”

The proceeds from the luau were donated to three local organizations: Paws Place Dog Rescue, All 4 Cats and Monty’s Home Dog Rescue.

Barbara Raab, founder of Monty’s Home, said she started her organization after her dog, Monty, died of a malignant heart tumor.

“We have a program called Pawsitive Partners Prison Program to train shelter dogs before they are adopted out and we have a 100 percent adoption rate for all graduates as well as 100 percent of our staff are volunteers,” Raab said. “Everyone who has walked through those doors tonight has helped save animals in need of rescuing.”

Dr. Matthew Resnick, veterinarian at Porters Neck Veterinary Hospital, said he started his partnership with The Bow Wow Luau & The Cat’s Meow eight years ago when he was the veterinarian for Arnold’s dog and attended her events when they were first starting out and a lot smaller.

“I would say I am very close to this fundraiser,” Resnick said. “All of the proceeds from this event go straight to the local animal rescue organizations we support in order to save more and more animals.”

The silent auction included items to bid on that ranged from pet grooming packages to a trip to Hawaii. Profits from the auction and tickets culminated in a substantial donation for the animal welfare community.

“It’s amazing watching these animals come from where they were to where they are now,” said Justin Mills, founder of All 4 Cats. “Differences would not be possible if it weren’t for every one of you. Being here and supporting all of us, you are saving lives.”

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