By Leila Dycus staff writer

On Saturday, July 12, members of the community, adopters and supporters flooded the Humane Society of Morgan County (HSMC) grounds to celebrate 20 years of finding pets forever homes. The day included demonstrations, activities and of course birthday cakes and furry friends. The party was just one of many memories that will forever be in the hearts of all who love HSMC. To the Humane Society of Morgan County, 20 years in operation means something great. “It means 20 years of saving animals lives,” said Humane Society of Morgan County Director Belinda Bell. “It means working harder to find solutions to animal abuse, neglect and over population so that organizations like this might not be needed in another 20 years.” “It means 20 years of support and care from a community that cares deeply for animals and their needs,” said Bell. On Saturday it was evident just how much the community loves and supports the humane society.

Local businesses donated supplies to make the party happen and people gave money to support the latest need of the center. Rewind a few weeks, HSMC announced their latest need- a van to transport animals to life saving vet visits and a way to travel to more adoption events. HSMC is about finding pets forever homes but it takes a lot to get animals ready for these homes. Locating and bringing animals to the shelter is the first step of the process, followed by taking them to offsite vets to be altered and take care of their surgical needs. Once ready for adoption the staff works to take them to events in surrounding areas in hopes that they will find homes. None of this work would be possible without a van for transportation. The staff and volunteers came up with the idea to host last weekend’s party. The results of the fundraisers through the party were astonishing. $7,550 was raised for the Van Campaign through last weekend’s event. How was it raised? Weeks ago the humane society’s Facebook put out a call for nominations for a jail and bail. Community members answered by sending in their nominations and 15 inmates committed to being locked up. Becky Manley, Kim Neidlinger, Dr. Malanowski, Vickie Hunt, Amy Summers, Trey Greenway, Kim Watts, Elizabeth Branch, Chip Scanland, Cotton Cummings, Leigh Aldhizer, Kim Jackson, Charles Haney, Denise Crowley, and Dr. Michael Hughes had to raise $150 in bail to get out of jail. “The fact that 15 individuals agreed to raise their bail money and sever time in our mock jail during one of the hottest days of the summer says a lot about their dedication to the center and our community,” said HSMC Administrative Development Manager Tera Cochran. HSMC ended up raising $3,575 for the event.

Many of the inmates raised their money before the event but committed to the cause they turned themselves in for time in the jail. Sheriff Robert Markley and Angie Benson helped set the mood with jail uniforms and an old police car. The event also had a raffle for a 1,000-dollar visa gift card and a BISSELL vacuum cleaner. Susan Perry won the Visa gift card. Perry, an HSMC supporter who adopted from the organization 15 years ago chose to give the gift card back to the humane society to go towards the van fund. Shocked and grateful for her support Perry’s donation took the raffle total to 2,694-dollars. Families were able to participate in a number of different events at the birthday party. Volunteers and staff members contributed cakes to the party. The cakes were used as part of a cake decorating contest and cakewalk. The cakewalk raised around 306-dollars. General donations to the Van Campaign came in at 975-dollars. “It was such a fantastic day that we absolutely left floating on air,” said Bell. “Support from the community and beyond was astonishing and it was a good time had by all.” Beyond just raising money the birthday party was a time for the community to come together. Former HSMC residents and their owners traveled from across the state to support the organization that brought their families together. Staff and volunteers were able to reconnect with the families and their beloved animals. These moments truly showed what 20 years of HSMC means to people. “The event was important to celebrate this milestone with the community,” said Cochran. “We wouldn’t be here without the community’s continued support so naturally we wanted to share with everyone.” It wasn’t just people that HSMC has impacted and that have impacted the humane society.

Linda Lethbridge, HSMC dog trainer, had an ask the dog trainer table. Helen Sutton was present to teach about T TOUCH a method of bodywork that encourages a deeper rapport between humans and animals. Boston Terrier Rescue also had a table with information about their rescue. Central Georgia Search and Rescue did a demonstration with their team members for crowds at 11:30. Linda Gilmore and her four shelties showed off their agility skills to the attendees. Mainstreet Vet had an ask the vet table and DJ Darrell Hope provided music for the party. Joe DiLetto, Madison City Council, gave a proclamation from the city and Andy Ainslie, County Commissioner, presented a proclamation from the county. Children got their faces painted, played corn hole and pin the tail on the puppy, and jumped on the bounce house. Children Ferst Foundation registered children for their free book program. “We cannot thank everyone enough for their support of the humane society and our campaign to raise funds for a transport van,” said Bell. HSMC wants to thank all of the demonstrators, volunteers, board members, staff, bakers, Ingles for donating the birthday cake, Walmart, Beth Bradley and the Relay Queens, photographers, master grillers, presenters, jail birds and their supporters, The Morgan County Citizen and The Lake Oconee News, and the Sheriff’s Department for their help in making this day special. “We’re completely non-profit and receive zero funding from the government or other animal rescue organizations,” said Bell. “We rely on support beyond fundraising events as we commit ourselves to continuing to save animals lives.” If you would like to get involved with HSMC you can volunteer, donate supplies, donate funds to the general fund, van fund or injured animal fun. You can also purchase a brick so that your legacy might live on with HSMC for another 20 years.