Animal advocates unite for ‘Grillin’ 4 A Cause’ fundraiser
New Beginnings for Merced County Animals, a non-profit dedicated to helping the animals at the Merced County Animal Shelter as well other locations in Merced County, held its fifth annual Grillin’ 4-A-Cause dinner on October 19 at a private home on Canyon Drive in Merced.
Greg and Kara Parle, owners of The Branding Iron Restaurant in Merced, made the back yard of their lovely home available. The fundraiser was well-organized by their daughter, Mindy Martin, and featured a delicious meal of barbecued tri-tip and chicken, salad, rice pilaf, baked beans and green beans and a dinner roll, as well as beverages, including wine and beer.
The entertainment was provided by Cowboys By Night. Guests enjoyed listening as Kenny Fischer and Rob Strickland performed cowboy tunes and shared cowboy poetry.
In addition, there was an extensive silent auction with items such as handmade tile-topped tables, dog grooming baskets, necklaces, paintings and gift certificates, to name a few, and a live gourmet dessert auction featuring 20 scrumptious and unique items, such as a bouquet of pumpkin cupcakes.
The guests included two adorable dogs, Pretzel, age 4, and Jarvis, age 3, who are Jack Russell mixes owned by Mickella Miller.
Miller explained, “They were rescued by New Beginnings almost two years ago. They are related because they came from a hoarding situation, which started with two dogs and ended up 47 dogs.”
She said, proudly, “They used to be very reactive all the time with everyone. We are training them to be therapy dogs. They’re almost through intermediate training.”
The way Pretzel and Jarvis found their forever home is that Mickella Miller and her husband were vacationing in Utah when they decided to stop at Utah Humane to pet dogs.
Miller said, “We fell in love and adopted them. We looked into their background and found they had been rescued by New Beginnings within a two hour drive from our home.
“We take them to every New Beginnings event we can, so people get to see them and watch them do tricks.”
During the evening, guests heard the latest news from New Beginnings when Sharon Lohman, the President of the Board of Directors, spoke.
Besides thanking the community for its support, she presented Mindy Martin and Kara Parle with a spa day treat for their outstanding efforts.
She said, “As Mindy kept sharing how many tickets were sold and how many people called both of us to volunteer or bring baskets or desserts, it was very humbling to see people want to help. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. There are so many needs in this area.”
She continued, “What do we do? Our commitment is to do what we can to lower the euthanasia rate at Merced County Animal Shelter.”
Lohman explained that last year, New Beginnings was able to save 5,755 animals from Animal Services — 1,238 dogs, 1,096 cats and 17 others (including a snake and a goat), totaling 2,334.
Outside of Animal Services, New Beginnings rescued 2,109 dogs and 1,295 cats, totaling 3,404.
In 2018, 640 more animals were rescued than in the preceding year, New Beginnings helped 532 medical animals, and 1,373 low-cost spay/neuter vouchers were issued.
Further, New Beginnings drove a total of 88,730 transport miles.
Lohman said, “We go from here to Colorado, and we have stories to tell. We have slipped, we have slid, we have transported animals breaking out of their kennels to cause havoc and have great fun for many hours in the vehicle.”
One cat that escaped sat on the shoulder of the driver for five hours.
Lohman exclaimed, “We always have room for volunteers.”
She continued, “Another large part of what we do is shelter diversion.”
Animal Services calls New Beginnings when they have underage or pregnant animals and medical animals, and it tells people to call New Beginnings for spay/neuter help.
In December, there will be two New Beginnings fundraisers — the home tour on December 8, where guests visit beautifully decorated homes, munching on treats as they go, and the eighth annual bake sale on December 14, featuring cookies, cakes, pies, jam, nuts, candies and homemade dog treats.
For further information, those interested can contact New Beginnings for Merced County Animals at 209-769-2122.