Feb. 22, 2006 – The Chinese Year of the Dog turned out to be a propitious time for St. Thomas dogs (and cats and other critters), as the Humane Society of St. Thomas' annual Valentine's "Doggie Ball" had its highest take ever.
Joe Elmore, the society's executive director, was clearly delighted Wednesday afternoon. "We just finished tallying everything up," he said, "and it's better than ever before."
He said the Feb. 11 event brought in "about $165,000 gross, with expenses around $65,000. I am pretty comfortable saying we will break $100,000 net. That's the most ever. It was $75,000 last year, which was the highest at that time."
Elmore said the novel license plate auction was a big factor. "The license plate venture basically took us over the top. A newly arrived businessman, Jan Trevalyan, placed the winning $20,000 bid for the first numbered plate," Elmore said. "He had competition in a bidding war with Ricardo Charaf, president of the Community Foundation of the V.I."
Charaf won the second plate for $1,500, Elmore said, and eight others auctioned off went for $500 and up.
If you were unable to place the winning bid at the "Doggie Ball," Humane Society license plates can now be purchased for $65. Call the society at 775-0599, and they will fax the form to be filled out. Upon receipt of a check or credit card number, the society will mail you your new plate.
Then, Elmore said, all you have to do is take your old plate to the Department of Motor Vehicles and pay the $10 transfer fee. He said the plates are also being distributed to auto dealerships.
Elmore praised board member Scott Martin for his work on the plates. "It was an idea generated some time ago, and Scott brought it to the front, followed through, and came up with a great plate." The colorful plate design features a comical dog and cat, palm trees, "AF" for animal friendly on the side, and the logo "Paws to Care" on the bottom.
This year's attendance was 578 people, Elmore said. He and other members had been somewhat apprehensive about the event's attraction this year because the Rolling Stones were performing in Puerto Rico that same night.
It turned out their concern was unwarranted. "We had to turn 20 people away Saturday afternoon, because the chef didn't have any more meals. We could easily have had 600," Elmore said.
According to Elmore, $5,000 of the event's proceeds will go toward a reward fund for reporting animal abuse cases. "We are trying to raise more to put into that fund now," he said. "What we are finding with the animal abuse cases is they are very much like other criminal cases; no one wants to come forward. People are afraid of retaliation, not unlike some other jurisdictions."
"We need to offer some incentive which will lead to arrest and conviction," Elmore said. "It is paramount that an eyewitness come forward. We have to do something. We will be advertising the reward with posters and in the media."
In related news, the society is still working on raising the $500,000 needed for the opening of the Animal Care Campus on Weymouth Rhymer Highway. Elmore said he hopes to have the groundbreaking "some time this spring."
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