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“Wine for Whiskers” breeds funds for cat sterilization

“Wine for Whiskers” breeds funds for cat sterilization

By Julie France

Cats and wine go together. One only need look at the Village Market classic, “cat wine” ラ wine in cat-shaped bottles ラ or the “Wine for Whiskers” fundraising event for Spay and Neuter Abandoned Cats and Kittens, Inc. in Mount Vernon.

Held at WineStein Restaurant and Bar in Mount Vernon last Saturday, Nov. 9, 31 people came to support the cause of spaying and neutering abandoned cats and kittens as a humane alternative to control the cat population. Guests enjoyed five varieties of wine accompanied by gourmet cheeses.

Debbi Britton, who serves on SNACK’s Board of Directors, said, “I’m loving it. It’s a good social time.”

Attendee and Kenyon alum Toni Metcalf ’09 added, “we are literally nipping the problem in the bud.”

Or rather, SNACK is snipping the problem in the bud. The proceeds from the event will go towards paying the costs of spaying and neutering cats that are caught on SNACK’s trap-neuter-return days.

A trap-neuter-return day involves trapping stray or feral cats in an area in which a resident has contacted SNACK about the wild cat problem. The cats are then taken to be sterilized and released back into the area. SNACK works primarily with a veterinary clinic in Fredericktown and receives a discount on the price of a cat spay or neuter.

SNACK also takes cats to Shelter Outreach Services, a low-cost spay/neuter clinic in Columbus, which charges about $55 for a spay and about $40 for a neuter.

Rita Dallavalle, Sue Horn, Greg Schumacher and Britton formed SNACK in 2011. The invention of SNACK was a result of the Knox County Humane Society’s decision in 2010 to start euthanizing cats for population control.

“That’s something that we could not support and it was an ugly mess,” Dallavalle said. “We all volunteered to get into messes; we just wanted them to be positive. It was just too draining, emotionally, to be involved in that.”

As a non-profit organization, SNACK has to find creative ways to continue the services it brings to the community. So, on June 1, SNACK, Inc. held its first “Wine for Whiskers” fundraiser to test the waters.

“We found that with most things we do, it’s best to have a trial run and then see how it goes and if people really like it, which everybody really did, then we go ahead and have a second one,” Schumacher said.

The trial run did not go to waste. On Saturday’s event, SNACK raised more than $1,750, compared to the first event, which raised $150.

“The only difference this time around is the first time we had crafts for sale,” Schumacher said. “We had door prizes and things like that. This time, we [had] a silent auction.”

The silent auction included treats such as Bath & Body Works products, tickets for tubing at Snow Trails and a round of golf. Yet these prizes were not the main appeal for attendees.

“This is a fundraiser for not only the people who came but also the volunteers ナ with trap-neuter-return and low-cost spay clinics there’s a lot of work involved. Most all of our volunteers enjoy that but ナ it’s always fun to have something that’s a real good time for your volunteers,” Schumacher said.

“It’s so much fun because we all have the same mindset for this cause,” SNACK’s Horn added.

SNACK’s members foster a passion for cats inside and outside their involvement with the organization.

“The number of cats I own is in the double digits,” Dallavalle said. “I’m not going to say anything else. It could be anywhere from 10 to 99.”

Event attendee and Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology Susanne Unger joined the Kenyon faculty this fall. For Unger, SNACK was an ideal means of exhibiting her love for animals as well as connecting with her new home.

“I thought that this would be a great way to be involved in the community,” Unger said.

The breeding of stray and feral cats is not a problem for cat lovers only.

“A lot of people don’t realize how problematic a large colony of stray and feral cats can be. It causes lots of disease [and] wildlife like raccoons to come into the area since people leave out food, and it’s also just a nuisance,” Metcalf said.

Though some people may recognize the hazards of stray and feral cat colonies and try to help, they often perpetuate the problem.

“People often feed stray cats, take them in or just decide to bring a few cats to be spayed or neutered. But that doesn’t help the problem at all,” Metcalf said. “SNACK is solving the problem in one fell swoop.”

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