Indian River Club goes to the dogs – and cats

VERO BEACH — Dogs and cats reigned supreme at In the Ruff, a golf tournament and animal awareness day at the Indian River Club to benefit H.A.L.O. Rescue, a no-kill shelter in Sebastian, and Stray No More, Inc., which now provides low cost spay/neuter in Indian River County.

The day began with breakfast for the 82 golfers who arrived to play the picturesque and challenging Audubon Signature Sanctuary course.  The morning was then turned over to the animals. Dogs frolicked in a tented area set up outside the clubhouse, wagging their tales at all who walked past; their soulful glances a plea for a permanent, loving home. Two cages of adorable kittens were chilling out in an air-conditioned tent, interspersed with games of chase the tail – their own and those of their cage mates.

The “chill-zone” tent also housed veterinarian Dr. Sara Mathews, who had generously donated her time, all the vaccines and supplies, and the earnings from the low-cost vaccinations to the two organizations.

“I love it when I’m able to make a difference in an animal’s life,” said Matthews, chief vet at the Humane Society of St. Lucie County, and a volunteer for H.A.L.O. in Sebastian.  “At the shelter, I have an opportunity to do that every day.”

Also helping out with the clinic was Van Demars who started up a field operation S.P.C.A. in Indian River County in 2009.  In addition to seeking permanent homes or foster care for pets surrendered by their owners, Demars’ organization provides veterinary care and socialization to kittens born in the wild to make them adoptable.

With five dogs and two cats, all rescued of course, Les Concierges of Vero Beach co-owner Kim Kern, the event’s organizer, obviously practices what she promotes.  She laughs that she also has a very tolerant husband in Indian River Club Head Pro, Joe Kern.

Jacque Petrone, H.A.L.O.’s director, said she started the rescue to give animals a second chance at a loving home; earnings from her Boarding, Grooming and Boutique business, supporters and fundraisers fund the non-profit organization.

The animals arrive from an endless variety of sources; including callus owners who abandon their pets at the facility in the dead of night and sneak away. “We took in four kittens and three dogs just yesterday,” said Petrone.

On the plus side, she has developed a great bond with those who have adopted pets from the shelter.  Some golfed in the tournament and still others brought their dogs just for a visit; a sort of mini reunion.

Hole sponsors Donnelly and Chuck Hein and their sons Nathan and Marshall brought their dog Shasta, a gangly, adolescent female Cataluña they had adopted from H.A.L.O., who was thoroughly loving all the attention.

“My youngest son wanted a puppy, so we went – just to take a look,” said Donnelly with a smile.

Bob Greco said he adopted a Cataluña/Labrador mix Bandit from H.A.L.O. two years ago as an eight-week-old puppy.  “The fact that it was a no-kill shelter was really important to us,” said Greco.  “As soon as I heard about this tournament, I jumped all over it.  It’s been outstanding; Kim put on a heck of an event.  I’m looking forward to the second annual.”  {igallery 252}

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