Fur Ball switches to online auction

Several unique items already have been donated for an online auction to help complete the construction of the Jackson County Dog Shelter.

Donations for the Fur Ball fundraiser can be made through Sept. 10. The auction will go from 6 a.m. Sept. 12 to 9 p.m. Sept. 19.

“We will take almost anything. The more original the donation, the better,” said Debbie Hackman, one of the event organizers. “We already collected a lot of donations last year and some this year, and we’re just going to make the best of what we can do and do it online and try to get some donations in and get this (shelter) finished.”

The fundraiser has been conducted at Pewter Hall in Brownstown in recent years, but Hackman said low ticket sales and not enough volunteers resulted in the in-person event Aug. 28 being canceled and switching to the online auction.

“We have lost some of our faithful volunteers that have been instrumental in preparing for the Fur Ball, including ticket sales,” Hackman said. “I’m not sure if the rise in the spread of COVID in Jackson County had anything to do with the low turnout. We lost some of our deposits because we canceled, but that is to be expected.”

One of the auction items is a Wild West experience, where eight people will enjoy a three-hour exploration of Jackson County country roads in a horse-drawn covered wagon. The unique experience will be complete with a meal prepared over a fire and served fireside in a secluded area.

There also is Terror on the Bridge, which includes watching a scary movie of your choice and enjoying popcorn and soda on the Medora Covered Bridge, and surprising someone on Easter morning with hundreds of plastic eggs and other surprises on their yard.

“Those experiences are what’s really exciting to me. I think that’s going to be a lot of fun,” Hackman said.

The online auction can be accessed at bidpal.net/jcdogshelter starting at 6 a.m. Sept. 12 and will be available around the clock until 9 p.m. Sept. 19.

“It’s a really cool site that you put in your information and it’ll contact you and tell you you’ve been outbid or text you,” Hackman said. “We don’t want anybody to miss out on getting an item or a package they want.”

Monetary donations also will be accepted on the website, and tax-deductible donations may be mailed to the Community Foundation of Jackson County, dropped off at its office at 107 Community Drive, Seymour, or made online at cfjacksoncounty.org and clicking on “Donate Now.”

“We always had at least a $25,000 goal for the Fur Ball, so it would be great if we can make that amount of money on just the auction. It would be wonderful,” Hackman said.

Proceeds will go toward completion and maintenance of the dog shelter, which is located behind the Jackson County Jail in Brownstown.

Hackman said the dog shelter budget has been approved by the Jackson County Council, and construction to complete the building will resume immediately.

Construction of the shelter started in the fall of 2018 but came to a halt in late 2019 when the private funds to build it began to dwindle.

“During the pandemic, donations nearly dried up, and we couldn’t do any fundraisers, so we asked the county to help finish the shelter,” Hackman said. “Because they couldn’t put taxpayer money in a building they didn’t own, the commissioners accepted ownership of the shelter building. We had not intended to abandon the project. We just wanted the county’s financial assistance.”

In the fall of 2020, the commissioners established a committee of Sheriff Rick Meyer, Animal Control Officer Mark Deaton, Commissioner Matt Reedy and Jackson County Councilmen Michael Davidson, Mark Hackman and John Nolting.

Before that, Bob Gillaspy and Gil Hoene were a part of a dog shelter committee and oversaw construction.

“The appointed committee took it upon themselves to take over the final details of finishing the building, and we were essentially out of it,” Hackman said. “Since that time, little progress has been made on the shelter even though we have continued to fundraise and have brought in several thousands of dollars.”

In May, the commissioners approved a $98,500 budget for completing construction of the shelter. The exterior is basically complete with the exception of site work, but interior work remains, including purchasing kennels and installing a sanitary sewer line.

After subtracting funds already available to complete the dog shelter, approximately $50,000 was needed. Commissioners also were told the shelter will have an operating budget of $71,000 the first year.

The county presently has a contract with Ruth Riley, owner of Red Sky Rescue on Medora, to provide shelter for stray dogs in the county. The cost is $37,560 per year, and in the future, that money will be used to operate the dog shelter.

The plan is for Meyer to oversee operations of the shelter, which will have a manager, and inmates will be used to care for the dogs.