A record crowd was in attendance at the Patti Dale Animal Shelter Friday night for the kick off of ticket sales for the annual gala dinner, and to hear that money from this year's event will go to building a new education centre at the Aldergrove site.
In what Langley Animal Protection Society has come to call its annual open house for sponsors and supporters, at least 100 people packed into the large lobby of the shelter to socialize and hear news of plans to construct another building on the current 56th Avenue location.
"This building would be used for dog training, volunteer training, seminars, kids camps, and whatever else would benefit the animals and people of Langley," said shelter manager Sean Baker.
Discussions and planning has been in the works since November, and although the green light to build has not yet been given, he said it is getting close.
"We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but once we get there, it will be awesome," Baker said, noting part of the money raised at the fifth annual Furry Tail Endings gala - set for Nov. 3 - is earmarked for the project.
"I would say the evening was a great success," Baker said at the end of the night, collecting almost $1,500 in direct donations and selling the first two tables ($1,200 each) for the gala.
Last year's gala was held at a new venue - Coast Hotel and Convention Centre - and was a sell out with 450 people helping raise more than $65,000. Baker's goal this year is to raise $70,000 at what he admits is the single largest fundraiser of the year for the shelter.
"We're a small team, but we're a big team with you guys," he said, referring to all the supporters who broke from chatting, drinking wine, and eating food to listen to his brief speech and watch a five-minute video about LAPS.
"As you can see, we are not fancy. But we are real," he said. "Our staff and volunteers truly believe in the work that they are doing, day in, day out."
Encouraging guests to tour the kennels and visit the cat commune, he explained how every donation helps them "fight the good fight." Baker also talked of a few other fundraising initiatives - outside of the gala - which are being undertaken to raise money to help out.
Friday was the kickoff to their second annual dream lottery raffle.
"Back by popular demand, we will be selling tickets starting right now until gala night," Baker said, waving several books of tickets over his head for all to see.
The raffle is for a $5,000 travel credit through Travel Masters to build a dream getaway, with tickets selling one for $20, three for $50, and 10 for $100. During Friday's launch, Baker announced that close to 200 tickets were sold. The goal is to sell 2,500 tickets, and they will remain on sale until the November gala, where the winner will be drawn.
Another ongoing fundraising campaign Baker spoke of Friday was the monthly donor program.
"Commit to donating $20 a month. It's easy_ $20 may not seem like it could do a lot. But, if enough of us commit to doing so, significant work can be done," he said, noting that his goal is to recruit 100 donors. Signing up a few more Friday, he said the count is up over 90 and closing on his goal.
During his presentation, Baker also trotted out a few shelter statistics.
He noted that 743 dogs have come into the shelter since last year's open houses, with 112 going home to new homes.
In the meantime 266 cats found refuge with LAPS, 233 of them finding new families.
The licensing team sold 4,440 licences and the animal control officers attended 1,360 complaints.
Looking around the crowd, he made eye contact with sponsors, donors, volunteers, and staff in the room: "I really do thank you for your support in all that you do_ we're all fighting the good fight together."