Annual Fur Ball event held Saturday

WILLIAMSTOWN – Animal lovers from around the Mid-Ohio Valley united on Saturday night to raise money for the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley in Marietta with the 10th annual Fur Ball.

About 200 people packed the American Legion Post 159 in Williamstown for the five-hour event that included silent and live auctions, food and live music.

“Every year this event exceeds my expectations,” said HSOV board president Jane Snell. “The support we get from this event is all about the community.”

The Fur Ball is the biggest of the Marietta-based society’s fundraisers, throughout the year.

The board and volunteers had set a goal of $15,000 for the event, but hoped to raise as much as $17,000, since this year’s event marked a decade since it started.

“Last year we raised $14,000, but since this is an anniversary year, we are hoping for $17,000,” said shelter manager Steve Herron. “Really, every cent we raise will help the animals and that’s what we are here to do.”

Organizers hoped for a boost of attendance by having local band Hit Parade perform for the crowd.

“They have a big following and we would like to see people come for their music who haven’t come to the Fur Ball in the past,” Herron said. “But, really, we are here to celebrate.”

All funds from the event will be divided, with 85 percent to the society’s operating fund, 5 percent going its new building fund and 10 percent for medical expenses for the animals. The general fund helps support daily costs at the shelter and the medical fund contributes to the care of the animals.

The new building fund was created after an anonymous donation of $30,000 was received several years ago. Since then, a portion of each Fur Ball’s funds goes toward the new facility.

The shelter, located on County House Lane in Marietta, sees between 1,500-1,700 dogs and 1,600-2,000 cats each year and provides not only food, shelter and adoptions, but also medical care for those in need.

“We refuse to give up on an animal just because it is sick,” Herron said. “If we can help them, we do.”

The shelter has the lowest instance of euthanasia of any shelter in the state with less than 1 percent of the dogs housed there being put down, he added.

“Those are dogs who were too sick or too aggressive to be re-homed,” he said. “We hate to do it, but those are the dogs that cannot be helped.”

During the evening, longtime volunteer Lisa Merrow was recognized for her work on the Fur Ball for the past 10 years.

“It’s not about me,” Merrow said. “It is heartwarming and gratifying that people care so much about the animals and this event proves that the community support we receive is amazing.”

Snell said the fundraising events are important because they show the community the humane society is willing to work for the animals.

“We can’t expect the public to support us if we don’t support ourselves,” she said.