Gala supports Humane Society and Shelter's animal rescue mission

Nov 4, 2018

Last year, 583 animals were adopted from the Humane Society and Shelter SouthCoast. This year, the shelter is on track to hit 728 adoptions, in part thanks to the volunteers and donors who keep the shelter running.

On Nov. 3, those volunteers and donors gathered at the Ventura Drive shelter for its 16th annual Give Me Shelter Gala. The largest fundraiser for the non-profit shelter helps support its mission of protecting and rescuing animals, and included a silent and live auction, food, and meet-and-greets with shelter animals.

“It’s our 16th fundraiser and most of the people here have been coming for that long,” said Executive Director Melinda Ventura. “It’s a way for them to come by and see where their donations are going.”

Things have changed significantly since the shelter was first established in 1911 in downtown New Bedford. At that time, a caretaker used to pick up stray animals on a bicycle. After several moves around New Bedford, the shelter moved into its Ventura Drive location in 2001, Ventura explained.

Since then, the shelter’s role has expanded. The shelter works with many local and regional agencies and nonprofits. The shelter is the holding facility for the towns of Dartmouth and Marion, and an overflow facility for New Bedford and Fall River. It is one of the few approved isolation facilities in the region, allowing it to house rescue animals from other states for the required 48-hour isolation period.

Ventura said the shelter also works with various rescue organizations locally and across the country.

“We’ve formed a bunch of partnerships,” Ventura said. “The key is we’re working together to form these partnerships.”

Many of those in attendance have adopted their pets from the shelter, like Deb Baker. She fell in love with Mary, a chihuahua terrier mix, which had been brought to the shelter after surviving for two weeks by her owner’s side after her owner died. Mary struggled to open up to the shelter staff but instantly walked up to Baker. 

“It’s more than just a shelter,” Baker said. “They truly care about every single pet here, regardless of what they look like or what their story has been.”

Funds raised from the gala will benefit shelter operations. Ventura said it is important, especially as the shelter is in need of a new roof and other maintenance.