Denim & Diamonds event to benefit Clay County shelter

Joy Purdy to appear at Safe Animal Shelter of Clay County event


MIDDLEBURG, Fla. – Supporters are invited to wear their best denim and diamonds to a dinner and auction Sept. 17 to benefit the Safe Animal Shelter of Clay County.

News4Jax anchor Joy Purdy will be the guest speaker at the dinner, which is being catered by LongHorn Steakhouse in Fleming Island. Beer, wine and soft drinks will be available.

The dinner is from 5-9 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Thrasher-Horne Conference Center. Tickets are $50 per person and can be purchased online at www.safeanimalshelter.com or at the Safe Animal Shelter at 2913 County Road 220 in Middleburg.

The deadline to purchase tickets is Sept. 15.

Entertainment will be provided by Tier Two.

Hundreds of silent and live auction items will be available for bid, including vacation packages, restaurant gift certificates, pet care, home improvement and more.

Safe Animal Shelter's mission statement is to "provide a temporary safe haven for abused, abandoned, lost and unwanted cats and dogs until adopted into a permanent."

The flip side to the public knowing about the safe haven, is that almost every morning Safe Animal Shelter Executive Director Sherry Mansfield and her employees arrive to work, they find abandoned pets at the facility's front door -- not something employees encourage, but never turn down.

The day News4Jax visited the shelter, veterinary technician Wendy Blackburn was bottle-feeding four tiny kittens that had been left in a box outside the shelter.

Employees said the public has been very generous to Clay County's oldest no-kill shelter, donating everything from laundry detergent and blankets, to pet food and newspapers.

Someone even made several "cat condos" by hand, and local elementary students from different area schools painted colorful murals throughout the building.

The facility's operating costs range between $23,000 to $25,000 every month, which includes the basic medicines and microchip technology, staff salaries, as well as basic bills to keep the lights on and water running.

Past fundraisers have brought in enough donations for the facility to purchase a new air-conditioning unit.
The greater problem -- there is no roof over the two dozen dog kennels.

Mansfield said the covering is merely made of plastic panels to keep the rain out.

"So all the great air blowing into the kennel area to keep the animals cool, is escaping right through the roof," Mansfield said, noting that raising money for an actual roof is the facility's next biggest project.

Pet adoptions are the facility's ultimate goal. Employees said donations are always appreciated, whether monetary or by providing supplies for the sheltered animals.

Other opportunities include sponsoring dog kennel, foster a pet, purchasing a stepping stone in the shelter's roomy meet-and-greet pet garden, in memory or honor of a beloved pet.

A new outreach program has also been added to the list of support opportunities. By becoming an "adoption ambassador," a person would become responsible for getting a particular animal adopted by taking it around town and to community events.

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