Paws swing for animals

Saturday evening was a night for kicking up paws and swinging at the Barn Event Center in Townsend.

The Kick Up Your Paws and Swing event was a fundraiser for the Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation, the non-profit organization raising money to build a new municipal animal center in Eagleton behind the Boys and Girls Club.

Foundation president Chris Protzman said about 60 people attended the inaugural event. “The food was excellent and Brad Walker and his orchestra played big band swing hits for two hours, and then we had a live auction by Steve Samples and raised almost $2,000,” he said, adding that another $2,000 was raised in ticket sales. “We could’ve accommodated a few more people, but we were pleased with attendance we had on a very busy weekend in East Tennessee.”

Everyone was very enthusiastic about the project on the job site, said Protzman. “They saw construction photos showing block being laid and other site work being completed and that got people excited about the project.”

State Sen.-elect Doug Overbey was there with his wife and Mayor Doyle Arp from Loudon County was there with his spouse.

“We hope to make it an annual event. We had great feedback, and there was a lot of energy for big band swing music especially with the popularity of shows like ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ ” he said. “We hope to make it an annual event. Barn Event Center owners, Richard and Debbie Way, did an excellent job of being co-hosts. Everything went like clockwork.”

The title sponsor is Pet Safe and presenting sponsors were Nelson Realtors Coldwell Banker, Green Meadow Wine and Spirit, Grandview Pet Service and Countryside Pet Resort. There was additional support from Wal-Mart, Eagle Distributing, Kroger and Coulter’s Florists.

Protzman said the foundation is estimating they will have a shortage in the A.C. system and finishing of the kennel with steel gates because of price escalation. “We’re probably $200,000 shy of getting operational for Phase I. We won’t know that for another month,” he said.

Protzman said that as the holidays approach, homeless pets still need to be a priority as budgets tighten in homes. This illustrates the need for a municipal shelter, he said.

“It’s critical we have basic level of service in our county. We have progressed a long way in 18 months,” he said. “We need to finish strong and get the first phase up and operational.”

Protzman said that while in the last 18 months the foundation has been asking for both cash donations and in-kind donations of goods and services, now they are asking for more financial help.

Protzman said any members in the community interested in making a bequest on behalf of a loved one, the foundation would be interested in speaking privately with them.

“We have the contractors and material. What we need is funding to finish off the detail work that needs to be completed. We’re on the cusp and are so close,” he said.

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