Wiping their brows as the sun beat down on their Lithia property, Keith and Peggy Wenzel, along with a faithful troop of volunteers, hosted a yard sale in the hopes of raising funds for the pet charity the Wenzels founded, Protecting Animals With Sterilization of Hillsborough Inc.
Money raised from the event will go to purchase pet food and veterinary care for the menagerie of animals that PAWS has taken in over the past few months.
Unfortunately, while the population of homeless pets grows, donations are down, said Peggy Wenzel.
"More and more people are giving up their pets because they can no longer afford to take care of them," she said. "At the same time, with the economy in the slumps, our donations are down."
To make up for the shortfall, the Wenzels sold personal antiques as well as various items donated to PAWS by Walmart on Bell Shoals Road.
"Thank goodness for Walmart," said Wenzel. "They've been one of our biggest supporters."
Founded in 1996, PAWS has found homes for hundreds of unwanted cats and dogs. The nonprofit organization depends solely on donations from the community, receiving no funds from any state or federal government agencies.
"Our goal has been to provide shelter, medical care and adoption of abandoned and relinquished animals," said Wenzel. "At the present, because of the economy, we are also trying to raise funds to help people be able to keep their pets."
One of PAWS' missions is to ensure that pets are sterilized to reduce the number of animals seeking homes.
"An unsterilized dog and her puppies can generate over 4,000 offspring in just seven years," said Wenzel. "An unsterilized cat and her kittens can generate an astounding 20,000 offspring in only four years. Millions of animals are euthanized in this country each year simply because there are not enough homes for them. This can be stopped by breaking the chains of uncontrolled reproduction."
Many of the animals taken in by PAWS have been found abandoned with injuries or illnesses requiring costly veterinary care.
Gabby the cat, for instance, was found with a broken leg, head injury and covered in ants.
"She spent two weeks in a coma and two months in the hospital before going into foster care," said Wenzel. "She is a beautiful calico female bobtail, about 12 months old but looks like a kitten. She is cute as a button. She talks to you when she wants her favorite wet food."
To help provide for the animals in need at PAWS, the nonprofit has joined forces with Tia's Tex Mex at 1414 W. Brandon Blvd., Brandon, for an Endless Summer Fundraiser Monday, Aug. 6 from 5 to 10 p.m.
All tips from diners who eat at the bar or on the patio will be donated to PAWS. The event will include buy-one-get-one-free fajitas, drink specials, raffles and door prizes.
Diners are encouraged to bring a bag of dog or cat food to donate to PAWS as well.
Those who can't make the fundraiser Aug. 6 can still contribute.
Tax-deductible donations for medical care and medicine for PAWS may be made at Alafia River Animal Hospital, 7021 Lithia-Pinecrest Rd., Lithia. Donations of Iams, Purina dog and cat food and cat cans, bath towels, scoopable litter, and flea and heartworm preventative also may be dropped off at the animal hospital for PAWS.
PAWS also is seeking donations of a van to pick up donations and transport animals, metal shelving, a large shed for housing supplies and kennels, a used ultrasound machine, a freezer, dryer and flea heartworm preventatives including Trifexis, Comfortis, Frontline, Pet Armor, Pednisone, Advantage and Revolution.
Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 963, Lithia, FL 33547 or dropped off at Alafia River Animal Hospital.
There is a required nonrefundable donation of $75 for dogs and $35 for cats. All animals to be adopted have age-appropriate vaccines, are spayed or neutered if old enough and have been tested for heartworm disease if over 6 months old.
For more information, call 813-655-7297 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.