SEQUIM — A Barks & Brews fundraiser for Pet Posse brought in more than $5,100 for the all-volunteer nonprofit organization.
About $4,500 was raised through donations and event sponsorships for the Aug. 10 fundraiser at Sequim’s Peninsula Taproom, with the on-site barbecue and bake sale raising another $671, organizer Randy Perry said.
“As a dog owner, I really wanted to help support such a rare and worthy organization,” said Maggie Basset, who came up with the idea of Barks & Brews and worked alongside Perry to put the event together.
“They do so much for our community, but a lot of people don’t know who they are or how they do what they do,” she said.
”This event is helping put a face on Pet Posse and teach people more about them.”
Pet Posse is a Port Angeles-based nonprofit that not only helps reunite families with their lost pets, but also provides a veterinary transport.
This a specially-converted SUV is capable of safely transporting even the largest dog breeds, either in emergency situations or just to help out older or injured animal owners who aren’t able to take their pets to a vet.
The transport also has been used in rescues of animals who have been hurt on the side of the road, taking them to veterinarians before Pet Posse volunteers return to their primary mission: reuniting lost animals with their families.
“We’ve reunited 2,572 pets with their owners in the last four and a half years,” said Shell’éy Van Cleave, founder of Pet Posse.
“And that’s just what’s made our Facebook page. We’ve probably helped another 8,000 people through other means.”
Those “other means” include giving advice on effective methods of searching for a lost pet, contacting local vets and spreading the word through friends in the area.
“When we started Pet Posse, I thought we’d be getting a few calls a week, maybe help 50 or 60 people a year,” Van Cleave said. “I never thought we’d be where we are today.”
Van Cleave said that Pet Posse was created when she and her husband Bill adopted a dog that had been badly abused when it was younger and it ran away the same night.
“There was no support, no help, no solutions for terrified owners,” Van Cleave said. “It took us two months to find him. I don’t want anyone else to have to go through that if I can help it.”
Basset said she admires that attitude. “We need a Pet Posse and people like Shell’éy in every city,” she said.
Van Cleave and her husband are key cogs in the Pet Posse effort, as is Shari Hamilton.
“Our hours are technically 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” Van Cleave said. “But realistically Shari and I are working 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. most days. When there’s fireworks, we’re up all night manning the phones.”
The money raised by Barks & Brews will go a long way towards helping Pet Posse continue to provide the services they give freely to the community.
“I can’t thank Randy and Maggie enough,” Van Cleave said. “They’ve done so much to help us, and we owe them a lot.”
Pet Posse accepts donations year-round.
“Every penny we’re given, whether it’s a donation or a ‘tip’ for helping someone, goes back into what we do,” Van Cleave said.
Pet Posse volunteers also are collecting dog kennels in preparation for an emergency.
“If the big earthquake hits or something else happens, dogs and other animals are going to be all over the streets,” Van Cleave said.
“We’re getting set up to be able to be a safe shelter for these animals in an emergency. Right now we can house about 40 dogs, but we want to be able to get that number over 250.”
To learn more about Pet Posse, go to www.portangelespetposse.com.