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Annual benefit slated Friday to raise funds for Hawk Creek Animal Shelter in Willmar, Minn.

WILLMAR — Friends of the Humane Society of Kandiyohi and Meeker Counties will have the chance to show their support for homeless animals at the seventh annual Save Our Tails charity event this weekend.

Organizers hope to raise $20,000 or more to help defray operating costs at the Hawk Creek Animal Shelter.

Save Our Tails, the Humane Society’s major fundraising effort of the year, will begin at 6 p.m. Friday at the Willmar Conference Center.

Last year the event raised $17,000. This year Martha Alsleben, co-chairman of the Save Our Tails committee, hopes to top that amount.

“We know there’s a lot of people out there that support this, especially our wonderful facility,” she said. “There’s a lot of animal lovers who see the great purpose we serve.”

The Hawk Creek Animal Shelter relies mainly on donations and adoption fees to cover its cost of operation, which this year is around $360,000, said Bobbie Bauman, director of operations. It receives no outside funding other than a local government allocation and a handful of project-specific grants.

The shelter took in just over 1,550 stray, homeless and surrendered animals last year. Bauman said the numbers have been stabilizing since the recession, and fewer people are surrendering pets because of home foreclosures or downsizing.

But the needs are still great, she said.

One of the priorities this year is to reduce the average length of stay for cats and increase the number of cat adoptions.

The shelter also wants to buy a surgery table and light to enhance its ability to do on-site spaying and neutering. “Those are our two needs right now,” Bauman said.

Guests at Save Our Tails will have the opportunity to pledge a donation for the surgery table and light. The estimated purchase cost is about $2,000.

The fundraiser brings back many of the most popular features from previous years: a buffet supper, a silent auction of specially themed gift baskets and a live auction of delectable homemade desserts that include a champagne cake, biscotti, raspberry white chocolate scones and a Mr. B Chocolatier cat made from solid chocolate.

Local businesses and individuals have been generous in their support of the auction, Alsleben said. “We’ve got handmade things, foods, car washes, pet items — a big variety.”

New this year is a pet photo contest. Pet owners may enter the contest for a $2 fee per photo. Prizes will be awarded in three categories: funny animals, baby animals and animals in action.

Tickets for Save Our Tails are $25 for adults and $7 for children age 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased at the door or bought in advance at the Hawk Creek Animal Shelter, 250 28th St. S.W., Willmar.

Table sponsorships also are available for $225, which includes a reserved table and eight adult tickets to the event.

Donations supporting Save Our Tails may be sent to Hawk Creek Animal Shelter, Box 709, Willmar, MN 56201.

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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