I remember Punch and Judy. I grew up with them. I also remember Mickey and Millie. My kids grew up with them. We all remember Brandi. She spent fifteen years with us. They were more than pets. They were family. They listened to us. Loved us without judgment. Played with us. Cuddled us when we were sad. When one of us was ill, they’d lay with us and watch over us. The names may be different, but I bet you too have memories of your dogs, cats, bunnies, or other pets.
But what happens, when they don’t have a human to love? Or when the human they love can’t provide the care they need? Then it’s our turn to give back. That’s what Bark After Dark is all about. It’s where the Animal Shelter League (ASL) of Rohnert Park comes in.
ASL, a non-profit entity, was created in 2002 by a group of volunteers who were associated with the Animal Shelter in Rohnert Park. Their vision was to raise funds that could be used to augment the Shelter’s budget and create additional programs to help the pets and their owners in our local community. Bark After Dark is without doubt their favorite and most successful fund-raising event. The current ASL board president, Cheryll Currier, said she’d love you to come help support the shelter but that it is also a fun event.
Bark After Dark is an annual event. It was first held in 2016 at the Burton Community Center but quickly outgrew that venue and moved to the Rohnert Park Community Center in 2017. That year it was cancelled because of the wildfires in our community but resumed in 2018. All proceeds are used to assist Rohnert Park Animal Services. For example, funds raised last year helped the Animal Shelter remodel the clinic and surgery area. This year two programs are likely to be the primary focus for the proceeds raised. They are the “Silver Paws” and “Shelter Medical Fund.”
Silver Paws helps low-income seniors get proper veterinary care for their pets. The pet already has a human to love but the human they love may not be able to afford proper care for them. The pet may be the only family the senior has day-to-day to share their golden years with but given limited resources they may not be able to afford what the pet needs. Your support just might make the difference in both their lives. This program provides grants for supplies and care to those in need. The Shelter Medical Fund has a slightly different focus. It’s designed to help older shelter pets or those with some medical issues become more adoptable by fixing the problems that exist. It might be a broken leg or hip, dental care, or some other issue that needs to be addressed before the pet is ready for adoption by a forever family.
Yet another program run by the Shelter is the “Get Them Back Home” program. We’ve all seen the posters asking if you’ve seen this cat or dog who went missing. Behind each story is likely a child hurting for their lost pet or a family desperately looking for and hoping that pet will be found. One way to avoid this is by having microchips and pet IDs available for pets in our community. This program provides FREE microchips and IDs to residents in our community.
The event format has remained steady year-to-year. Advance tickets are slightly cheaper than tickets at the door. This helps them get a head count for meal planning purposes. A buffet meal is included with the price of your ticket. There is also a no-host beer and wine bar. And did I mention that there are lots of yummy desserts?
A local celebrity acts as the Master of Ceremony and auctioneer. There is both a silent and a live auction which features a wide variety of items to bid on. The extra special and larger prizes are usually found within the live auction. Other entertainment events are sprinkled throughout the evening. This year a special video will be shown highlighting how past events have benefited the Shelter and our pets.
Mickey Zeldes, supervisor of the Animal Shelter, stressed that the timing of the event at the start of the holiday season allows you to support the animals and get a head start on your Christmas shopping while enjoying a pleasant social event with your friends and neighbors. That makes “your gift extra special because it also helps pets in our local community”.
The event will be held on Saturday, November 2 from 6:30-10 p.m. at the Rohnert Park Community Center. Tickets purchased before October 29 are $35. After that date, the price jumps to $45. You can visit the Shelter’s Website at https://rpanimalshelter.org for more information on this event and other programs or volunteer opportunities
I hope to see you there. I hope the memories of your pets are as beautiful as mine. I hope those memories motivate you to support this event and the local efforts of the Animal Shelter League of Rohnert Park (ASL). I hope that these efforts help pets find their humans, seniors take care of their companions, and allow our children to build their own lifelong memories as I did with Punch, Judy, Mickey, Millie and Brandi.