Rain cancellation of BARKtoberfest hurts local shelter - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Rain cancellation of BARKtoberfest hurts local shelter

October 23rd, 2018 SanTan Sun News
Rain cancellation of BARKtoberfest hurts local shelter

By Cecilia Chan


The record-breaking rains that pelted the Valley on Oct. 13 did more than just flood roads; it forced a Gilbert animal rescue to cancel its largest single-day fundraiser of the year.

Friends for Life Animal Rescue had anticipated a crowd of between 7,000 and 10,000 people to attend BARKtoberfest, which included over 65 vendors booths. That was until the remnants of Tropical Storm Sergio came through the state, bringing enough rain this month to make it the wettest October on record for Phoenix.

“It was our 20th annual and it’s the first time we were rained out,” said Barb Savoy, spokeswoman for the no-kill shelter. “We would love to say we rescheduled but it’s too difficult between the town’s schedule and the time to re-coordinate the vendors and sponsors and food trucks.

“It would take an act of God to be able to re-coordinate and reschedule for a different day.”

Friends for Life’s annual event at Gilbert Civic Center typically raises $25,000, the bulk of which is used to pay for medical care for stay cats and dogs.

Savoy said that in the weeks leading up to its signature event, the shelter rescued more dogs than normal. Planning for the event began around March.

The storm was so fierce that even the Arizona State Fair closed for the day.

When Friends for Life announced it was canceling the event because of safety concerns, some people stopped by the shelter to buy raffle tickets and donate, raising $3,000, Savoy said. The shelter also adopted out 16 dogs and two cats that Saturday.

But the shelter is still left with a $22,000 hole in its budget.

“We will have to have other fundraisers and get creative to make up the deficit,” Savoy said.

In its 25 years of doing rescue, Friends for Life has saved more than 10,000 homeless cats and dogs. The nonprofit shelter also will take in owner-surrendered pets but focuses on strays.

What’s unique about the shelter is it lives up to its name. Each animal is microchipped with Friends for Life as the primary point of contact, so if an adopted pet ever ends up in a euthanasia facility, the shelter arranges to get the animal back.

It has gone as far away as Alaska and Florida to bring back one of its adoptees.

The nonprofit has steadily grown from a network of volunteer foster homes in 1993 to three leased buildings in downtown Gilbert three years later and then to a new building in February on Melody Avenue near Baseline and Cooper roads.

The group’s major fundraising event also has grown over the years.

In 1998 the event was held in the front yard of the nonprofit’s original shelter building with a handful of vendors, a few games and an alumni parade.

How to help:

To donate online to Friends of Life Animal Rescue, go to https://www.mightycause.com/organization/Friends-For-Life-Animal-Rescue?fbclid=IwAR2z8qGClClVWDd1PPhSIzkfHzfF_ugjaBFUr9-Q-I3lMlf8vJmBWad5dfI

The rescue shelter is now accepting donations for a yard sale fundraiser that will take place 7 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 17 at its adoption center, 952 W. Melody Ave., Gilbert. Donations can be dropped off at the center.

Early-bird shopping will be 4:30-8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 16. A $5 per person donation is requested for those requesting access to early birds.

For more information, call 480-497-8296.

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