Feb. 13, 2005 The record number of animal advocates jammed into the grand ballroom at Marriott Frenchman's Reef Saturday night had cause for celebration.
The anti-animal cruelty bill had once again been unanimously approved at Friday's Senate session.
And celebrate they did. But not without a cautionary note.
Randolph Knight, businessman, philanthropist and capital campaign director for the soon-to-be started Animal Care Campus, warned the bill still had to be signed by the governor, something that failed to happen the last time the bill made its rounds.
Calling parts of the bill "draconian," Gov. Charles W. Turnbull vetoed the bill that had been years in the drafting and fine-tuning stage, and which aligns the V.I. with most other U.S. jurisdictions that make animal cruelty a felony offense.
"The only thing draconian," Knight said Saturday night, "is the governor's insensitivity to animal cruelty.
"Shame on you Gov. Turnbull," Knight said to burst of applause from the audience.
However, he was hopeful about an override in the event that Turnbull once again vetoed the bill that had to be reintroduced to the 26th Legislature because the veto had been on a bill introduced in the 25th.
"If we are found with another shameful veto it is my understanding we have enough votes to override," Knight said.
Also on a hopeful note, he announced, "We have the necessary funds to commence construction," of the Animal Care Campus. The campus is a project launched with a commitment of $500,000 in matching funds from Knight nearly three years ago. For every dollar raised, Knight will match it up to $500,000. The campus is expected to cost $1.1 million to complete.
With 600 people showing up for Saturday night's annual "Doggie Ball," the event was more than a sellout, according to Humane Society of St. Thomas President Joe Aubain.
"It may be the biggest ever," Knight said of the event, which has always been the Humane Society's major fundraiser.
Along with the cost of admission, funds are raised with a silent auction, raffle tickets, and the "pluck-a-duck" game.
But it wasn't all about fund raising at the annual Valentine's Day event. The Starlites played for dancing all night, and the evening was kicked off with a set of songs performed by Broadway star Jessica Hendy.
Hendy, who recently moved to St. Thomas directly from a role in Broadway's "Aida," wowed the crowd with a special arrangement of "Cry Me a River," and two other well-known tunes.
At 11 p.m. the dance floor remained packed with spirited revelers, all of whom showed up to have a good time, while giving of themselves and their pocketbooks in support of the thousands of abandoned, abused and neglected animals on St. Thomas.
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