ARL fundraiser critical to its mission

Now in its third year, Whiskers, Wine and Something Divine has evolved into the Animal Rescue League’s most important fundraiser, according to Heidi Drager, executive director.

“Whiskers, Wine and Something Divine has proved to be very successful,” Drager said. “And I hope the community will support us like they have in the past.”

The event will feature wine tasting, and a champagne social sponsored by Hy-Vee. Additionally, there will be hors d’oeuvres, and a live and silent auction stocked with items donated by a number of community partners.

The “something divine” is a major prize awarded to one lucky ticket holder.

While promoting the upcoming event critical to the nonprofit’s mission, Drager also reviewed progress made last year and 2014 priorities.

Drager said the ARL housed 1,280 cats, dogs and other four-legged friends in 2013.

“That was a decrease of 24 percent from 2012,” Drager said. “Fewer animals coming into the shelter means that we are doing something right. However, we still have a long road ahead.”

The long and winding road cited by Drager is the ARL’s critical and ongoing role in educating the public about pet overpopulation and pet care. The later means helping pet owners prevent situations that result in a pet being brought to the shelter.

Drager also candidly addressed an ARL priority for 2014: The issue of it euthanizing feral and unsocialized cats, which are trapped and brought to the ARL.

The majority of euthanasia done is to feral cats.

“There is no question that cats living outside have a difficult life,” she said. “But isn’t it a life worth living? Is it fair to trap a cat and haul it to the ARL to live in a cage for three days followed by euthanasia?”

Drager said the three days in captivity are highly stressful for a cat not used to being indoors.

The solution: Implement a Trap-Neuter-Return program, which has proved successful in other committees.

The cats, once captured, would be spayed and neutered, and then returned to their environment.

“We need people to ensure the cats have access to food, water and shelter,” Drager said. “We need to let unsocialized and feral cats live outside where they are comfortable. If we had this program in place, we could have saved countless cats last year.”

Drager said education is key to helping residents understand the value of having spayed and neutered cats living outside.

Another priority for 2014 is to do more outreach to the area’s Hispanic community on pet care.

“We are working on addressing the language and cultural barriers which presently exist,” she said.

For more information contact the ARL, 641-753-9046.

Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com