Gainesville Daily Register

February 8, 2013

Noah's Ark plans 'Fur Ball'

By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer

Gainesville — Representatives of Noah’s Ark Animal Shelter, a facility that operates primarily by donation, hope for a $60,000 yield during an upcoming fundraiser.

The “Noah’s Ark Fur Ball” is set for Saturday, March 9, at Gainesville Civic Center. Shelter board president Shelly Gomulak said doors open at 5:30 p.m., and that the party will go on as long as needed.

“We’re not looking to have an end point,” she said Thursday. “We’re just going until people get tired.”

The event will include dinner, live and silent auctions and music by the Willie Kick-It Band. And Gomulak said her five-figure fundraising goal is based on success during the 2012 installment of “Fur Ball,” where $59,000 was accrued in a single night.

“It’d be nice to get $60,000, but $50,000, we’d be happy with,” she said, and added that the flux of funds has been lighter during the past year. “We have taken a hit and I think all nonprofits have had drops in donations, because the belt is tighter.”

Regardless of the economy, the shelter requires an annual budget of $225,000 to provide care for up to 120 animals. County funding supplies a yearly allowance of $2,000, and Gomulak said City of Gainesville funding is more helpful, providing a monthly stipend of $1,100.

“We appreciate it, but it doesn’t do too much as far as taking care of the animals,” she said.

The rest of the budget falls entirely on shelter staff.

“This is our big one,” Gomulak said about the March 9 event. “And we do have several really generous donors who help us when times are tight, which is wonderful.”

Gomulak said one donor who had reguarly provided $6,000 per year was forced to stop sending money. But many current Noah’s Ark donors not only provide money, they volunteer time and resources to help take care of dogs and cats at the facility.

“They really love the animals and they see that we’re doing a good thing,” she said. “So we do have checks coming in each week, and it keeps us afloat.”

The nature of things

In September, Gomulak explained that during summer months, the Noah’s Ark facility reaches or exceeds its 120-animal capacity, since cats breed in warm weather and the shelter’s main inhabitants — stray animals — rise in number.

Gomulak said the excess occurs since many Gainesville residents take hold of dogs and cats as pets, and then fail to conduct proper maintenance.

“I think we wouldn’t need the shelter if people spayed and neutered their pets,” she said in September. “Most of the animals we get are the result of unwanted pregnancies. And maybe there would still be a need for it, on a very low level. But a lot of the animals we take in are dumped.”

Gomulak added that local pet owners seemingly fail to consider that puppies and kittens become dogs and cats with long fingernails and the tendency to run around.

Such animals are often disposed of because of scratched furniture and other damages, she said, and yet their owners should have already known better.

She also said a large dog can run as much as $20,000 in medical and maintenance expenses during its lifetime.

It appears not all owners know that, either.

“If we could get people to step up to the plate and consider that it’s a lifelong responsibility, they’d know that not everyone needs a pet,” Gomulak said in September. “It’s not a requirement for a happy life, and if you can’t afford it, you shouldn’t get one.”

To get tickets

Tickets for the “Noah’s Ark Fur Ball” are $50 per person, or $360 for a table of eight. For more information, call (940) 634-3670.