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Mardi Gras party to aid pet shelter

The Humane Society of the Lakes' Mardi Gras fund-raiser is Friday, and just in time. The shelter is opening its doors to the public March 13.

Board President Beth Pridday said money from the fund-raiser is earmarked for last minute needs for the shelter's opening and for things that couldn't be donated, for example a hairdryer for the dogs, kennels and more.

"This is an extremely critical time," she said. "It's like moving into a new home, you need the extra boost."

Mardi Gras Madness Casino Night is Friday from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. in Speak Easy. Gambling will consist of horse racing, black jack, roulette, big wheel and pull tabs. Music is by The Fat Dads, a New Orleans style blues and jazz-fusion band from Bismarck, N.D.

"They're our donation to the night to make it a success," Speak Easy owner Michael Mercil said of the band.

Mercil is also offering three dinner packages for guests, including jambalaya, andouille stuffed pork tenderloin and blackened snapper, each at $18. The dinners also include salad and bread pudding for dessert.

The humane society and Speak Easy paired at New Years for a casino-style fund-raiser as well, whose success led to the Mardi Gras party.

"We did New Year's Eve, and it was such a hit," Mercil said. "Not a month later and they wanted to do it again because it was such a hit."

Which Mercil said is fine with him because the humane society is an organization he fully supports.

"When they (animals) are getting hurt, abandoned or starved, it's near and dear to my heart to do something about it," he said.

"We didn't realize how much fun people would have at New Year's Eve," Pridday said. "We didn't know what to expect."

Besides the money, Pridday said the fund-raiser gives the organization the opportunity to "put themselves out in the community" and now introduce the staff members at the shelter, Erica Borsheim and Sarah Faith.

Although the shelter hasn't officially opened to the public yet, there are 20 animals in the shelter, and in one and a half weeks, they have adopted out nine animals. By the opening date, the shelter will easily be filled, Pridday added.

Besides the annual Tuxes and Tails event -- which will have a Dames and Dogs spin on it this year -- and ShelterFest, Pridday said there will likely be extra fund-raisers like Mardi Gras throughout the year. Those "bonus fund-raiser" monies and those from charitable gambling are relied upon until the shelter is up and running with money coming in from retail and adoptions.

Not only is the shelter important to house unwanted animals throughout the area, it will be used as an education tool, Pridday said, reminding people how important it is to spay and neuter animals

"It definitely comes down to the animals," Mercil said.

Hours of operation for the shelter will be Sunday-Monday closed, Tuesday-Friday from noon to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.