The Animal Refuge Center will hold a fundraiser Saturday, June 28, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Gator Lanes Bowling, 7050 Crystal Drive in Fort Myers. A $25 ticket to the "Bark and Bowl Extravaganza" buys two hours of bowling (shoes provided) and an Italian buffet. Ticket sales will help fund the operations of the 23-acre ARC facility at 18011 Old Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers.
Incorporated in 1988 as a non-profit whose mission is to "shelter, adopt and educate," ARC is a no-kill shelter whose founders wanted to find a better way than euthanasia to solve the problem of the growing numbers of unwanted, but healthy animals. The organization grew slowly from educational programs on responsible pet ownership and inexpensive clinics for pet sterilization to become, at its present facility, the largest no-kill animal shelter in southwest Florida with training and exercise yards and an indoor training center for dog behavioral and basic obedience training.
ARC's canine training program, led by a certified behaviorist, has dramatically increased the adoption rate for larger canines. Properly identifying canine behavioral problems, assessing the needs of new arrivals and chartering treatment programs produces well-mannered, behaviorally sound canines that are more adoptable.
ARC is more than a training facility for shelter animals, however; it is a sanctuary for animals that have not been adopted. Though the number of animals housed here has grown to more than 500, no animal will be killed to make room for another. Currently, cats are housed in nine main buildings and five cottages for new feline arrivals, and dogs in 39 air-conditioned dog lodges with doggy doors, shaded play yards and kiddie pools. The goal of ARC is to eventually increase its capacity by building out the remaining 10, as yet undeveloped, acres of the property.
The upcoming "Bark and Bowl Extravaganza" is a fun way for caring people to help. Tina Hager, ARC Volunteer and Marketing coordinator, encourages people to get up a bowling team and join the party where ARC volunteers will be on hand to answer questions.
The prevention and rescue efforts of ARC depend entirely upon the kindness and generosity of the public. To continue to provide shelter and medical care for homeless and injured animals, as well as community education and advocacy programs to alleviate the suffering and save the lives of abandoned animals, ARC must rely solely upon donations. The need is urgent and ongoing, for the number of animals entering shelters annually in the U.S. is now at 12 million and the number euthanized in those shelters nearly 6 million.
"We have saved thousands," said Hager. "Help us save more. Even a $5 donation can be a big help. Or come to the shelter and help walk and feed the animals, or clean and repair their homes, or help with public events and online marketing campaigns. If you love animals, there is so much you can do to help them."
For more information about ARC and volunteer opportunities, visit firstname.lastname@example.org. For "Bark and Bowl Extravaganza" tickets call Tina Hager at 239-258-1275.