By Taylor-Ann Smith EBS Staff

BOZEMAN – Heart of the Valley animal shelter on May 21 hosted its annual fundraising event called the “Dog Ball,” at Montana State University’s Strand Union Building ballroom.

With a “Mission: It’s Pawsible” theme, the room was elegantly decorated in red, black and gold. More than 200 guests arrived to the red carpet in their best formal attire and were greeted at the ballroom entrance with mixed-breed puppies available for adoption.

The evening featured an array of silent auction items donated by area businesses, such as tickets to the Big Sky Pro Bull Riders event, spa packages and vacations.

Bozeman’s Plonk hosted an open bar and after enjoying a gourmet meal catered by MSU, guests had another opportunity to support the shelter during a live auction. Items included an all-expenses-paid trip to the Westminster Dog Show in New York City; a day of skiing or golfing at the Yellowstone Club; and a weeklong rafting trip with Boundary Expeditions on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

All proceeds from the evening went directly to support the operations of Heart of the Valley, which was still totaling the funds as of EBS press time.

“I want to give a huge thanks to the community for all their support in making this event so wonderful,” said Dawn Leadbetter, president of Heart of the Valley’s board of directors. “Not only is this a huge fundraising event, it’s a major outreach opportunity for us and allows us to express [to the community] what we do.”

The success of this year’s Dog Ball is only eclipsed by the number of animals Heart of the Valley has helped in 2016. As of May 21, 295 cats have been given new homes, with an average stay of 19 days at the shelter. During that same timeframe, 240 dogs have been adopted with an average stay of nine days. Every year, the shelter finds new homes for approximately 2,500 dogs and cats.

The successful adoption rate can be attributed to Heart of the Valley’s caring staff, state of the art facilities, devoted volunteers and fundraising, as well as its numerous community programs.

The shelter has a spay and neuter clinic; school education tours; summer day camps for kids; obedience training courses; food assistance for those struggling to afford their pet, as well as sheltering animals from Montana Native American reservations.

Heart of the Valley’s mission statement is “to compassionately shelter the lost and surrendered pets of Gallatin and Madison valleys, and to enhance the lives of people and companion animals through adoption and education.”

The 2016 Dog Ball accomplished this mission and proved “it’s pawsible” for rescued animals in southwest Montana.

Visit heartofthevalleyshelter.org for more information.