The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


April 21, 2014

Ryan Richardson: Benefit important to Humane Society's mission

JOPLIN, Mo. — The one thing that surprises me more and more about living here is the amount that people in this area like to give.

They give freely of their time by volunteering for so many great causes. They are very gracious about donating to worthwhile causes. I think it is incredible to see because it really is unique, and it is something that this area needs to champion for years to come.

I got to see this firsthand last Saturday night at the 12th annual Fur Ball for the Joplin Humane Society at the Downstream Casino pavilion. For those who aren't familiar, the Fur Ball is an annual benefit organized by the humane society that provides a much needed influx of donations that help keep the doors open.

This was my second time going, so I knew what to expect between the silent auction and the live auction later in the night. Last year, my jaw dropped when I saw how quick people were to donate toward the shelter, even after purchasing tickets for the fundraiser.

I've been out to the humane society a few times since then, and I have a better handle on what goes on there and what it takes to keep a place like that operational. Last week, I spoke to shelter manager Lysa Boston while covering another story, and we touched on the costs of operating the shelter.

I was blown away to learn that it takes nearly $2,500 a day to keep the doors open on the shelter.

When I sat down to think about it, though, it made sense. There are more than 350 dogs and cats on site now with more coming in everyday. In the first two weeks of April, they already had 200 new dogs and cats show up at the shelter.

Between spaying and neutering, food, care, and other costs, it is surprising that it isn't more. When she told me that the Fur Ball raised about $50,000 in 2013, I realized how far that giving goes in keeping those doors open.

During the Fur Ball, Boston also addressed the crowd in recognizing many of the volunteers who keep the place going on a daily basis. While thumbing through the guide, I came across a biography on Virgil Mitchell, the human society's advocate of the year for 2013.

Basically, Virgil comes to the humane society to walk the dogs almost daily, giving them a much needed social interaction boost. He also donates his time there to fixing the beds, organizing the shelter's storage barn and being a general handyman on site whenever they need it.

When I was there last week, I ran across him doing just that, and I noticed the giant smile on his face. I didn't know who he was at the time, but after seeing him at Ball with the same smile on his face, I made the connection.

I am continually impressed with the quality of people this area can produce. At the end of the day, it isn't about money donated -- even though that is necessary when you are working on this large of a scale. It comes down to the people who are able to give so that another pet will find a good home.

Contact Ryan Richardson about this column or other topic suggestions at or 417-627-7363.

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