MIDLOTHIAN — The Ellis County Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ECSCPA) held its annual Wish Upon A Paw event Saturday night at the Midlothian Conference Center. Undaunted by heavy rains in the late afternoon and still-threatening clouds in the early evening, some 350 supporters of the ECSPCA turned out for the event.

With this being the organization's biggest fundraiser of the year, Executive Shelter Director Amy Fincher said a lot was riding on this night, and she is ecstatic about the outcome. Between the live and silent auction and ticket sells, the shelter brought in $41,000 in financial support.

“My personal goal was $20,000,” Auction Chair Jennifer Wartsbaugh said, who is employed as the marketing officer at Ennis State Bank. “We truly rely on the generosity of Ellis County. This has been a great experience and an opportunity to meet many wonderful people of Waxahachie and Midlothian.”

Fincher added that the ECSCPA's finances were beginning to look grim, and the event couldn't have come at a better time. She said this year's auction items really helped them achieve their goal.

The largest live auction item of the night, bringing in a whopping $1,000 was the Estate Planning Package donated by Kevin Kosoris of Wray, Willett & Stoffer Law Firm. Coming in second was a set of Dallas Morning Newspapers about John F. Kennedy and his visit to Dallas. This item was auctioned off at $650. And the third place auction item, which was an electric Kidd Rock guitar went for $600.

Silent auction items ranged from elaborate gift baskets filled with Mary Kay or Avon cosmetics to welding equipment to dinners out and autographed memorabilia, which altogether raised over $7,000.

“A Brighton bag, donated by the Briarpatch, brought in the highest amount at $365,” SPCA Board President Martha Weedon said.

Chances to win a weekend getaway at Casa Del Mar in Galveston sold fast at $20 each, with Clint Morton ending up as the lucky winner.

Among those 350 people in attendance was WFAA Channel 8 news anchor Gloria Campos. Campos was this year's honored guest of the shelter. Campos said she is an animal lover with three dogs, and that's why she felt it was important to attend the fundraiser.

“I'm really happy to be here tonight as we help the ECSPCA continue its good work for animals in need and hopefully spread the word to people about being responsible pet owners,” Campos said. “If you're going to own an animal you must take responsibility for that animal, because they are going to be a part of your family for a very long time.”

Campos also addressed the ECSPCA's continued care for animals in Ellis County and its service to the community by pairing these animals with caring owners.

“I know the SPCA has been busy since 2004 making 4,000 animal placements in your community. Sometimes they take up to 350 animals a month, and that's why we're here tonight – to help them spread the word and get these little animals adopted. I've been a pet lover all of my life. Be generous and contribute to this great organization. We appreciate all of you animal lovers coming out tonight.”

Although the main purpose of the event was to raise money for the shelter, the ECSCPA could not leave their selfless, vital volunteers unrecognized. Among their many volunteers, they chose Shirley Bailey of Bow-Wow Barbers as this year's Volunteer of the Year.

Fincher said without the continued support and selfless attitude of Bailey and her staff, they could not successfully do what they do.

“She is very passionate and has been a huge supporter of our shelter for years,” Fincher said of Bailey. “Shirley is always available to help us out at a moment's notice and has never complained about it.”

Fincher added that Bailey has held special events at her store to help raise money for the shelter.

“She has been on board with us since the beginning, and she is very deserving of this award,” Fincher said.

Bailey said she is very thankful for the recognition and will continue to support the ECSPCA.

“Thank you ECSPCA and Martha Weedon for presenting me and Bow-Wow Barbers with this award,” Bailey said. “This is truly an honor. We will continue to help with those furry babies so they can find their forever families.”

Several local officials and prominent citizens of the county were also in attendance at the event, and had nothing but positive things to say about the organization.

“This is a great event,” Ellis County Commissioner Bill Dodson said. “It will do very well for the SPCA and bring attention to what the SPCA does.”

“The SPCA is a vitally important organization in any community,” Ellis County and District Attorney Patrick Wilson said. “They supplement government resources in terms of taking care of stray animals in our community and provide both financial and practical relief in that regard.”

Weedon said the fact that people were in attendance at the event meant they care, and she was thrilled to have such huge support from them.

“Without the people of Ellis County, who are willing to give – especially of their time as volunteers – there would be no ECSPCA,” Weedon said. “Having been raised by a father who was a vet, animals have been a very important of my life. In our house, animals came first and I'd like to think my father is smiling down on me for my involvement with the ECSPCA.”

She said this year they started a “spay and neuter, don't litter” campaign. The goal of the campaign was to spay or neuter every animal before adoption.

“We may not be able to fix the worldwide animal overpopulation, but we can start to fix Ellis County,” Weedon said. “Additionally, we are still in the process of procuring Kuranda beds to make our overnight guests as comfortable as possible.”

She said animals sleeping on cold, sometimes wet and dirty concrete is not a thought she relishes. She added that the support and attendance of everyone at the event will go a long way toward ECSPCA reaching its goals. The support will also take care of the every day requirements necessary to run a shelter.

For more information about the ECSPCA, call 972-935-0756. 

Diana Buckley also contributed to this article. Follow Melissa on Facebook.com/MelissaCadeWDL. Contact her at 469-517-1450 or melissa.cade@waxahachietx.com.