By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – An estimated 250 people turned out for the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society’s sixth annual Art for Animals fundraiser Thursday evening at the GumTree Museum of Art.
Event-goers bid on a host of silent auction items – including original pieces donated by local artists and an array of products and packages from area stores – while enjoying hors d’oeuvres and drinks.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will support construction of a new animal shelter on Cliff Gookin Boulevard to replace the cramped and outdated facility on South Gloster Street.
THLS officials have a goal of $20,000 for the event. They’ll need an additional $2 million to complete the project, which is estimated to cost roughly $2.5 million. The shelter already has more than $500,000 in its capital project account.
“I’m very hopeful that this year will be the year to really kick off the capital campaign to raise the money we need for the new shelter,” said TLHS Director Debbie Hood.
The shelter accepts thousands of animals annually, with a weekly occupation rate of roughly 200. Most are cats and dogs, and many are dropped off as unwanted puppies or kittens born to family pets.
“I’m a crusader for spaying and neutering,” said author Mary Anne Doolittle Byrne, who signed copies of her book, “Recycled Pets Are Best” at the event.
Byrne donated profits from that evening’s book sale to the TLHS.
Many of the event-goers, like Deborah Crosby of Tupelo, said they attend Art for Animals every year because they support the shelter’s mission.
“It’s a wonderful cause,” Crosby said.
Kevan Kirkpatrick, also of Tupelo, said he believes someone needs to look after the animals.
“People inherently have the ability to help themselves, but animals don’t,” Kirkpatrick said. “So I’m a big advocate of helping animals who came into this world through no fault of their own and are abandoned.”