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Whiskers, Wags & Wine fundraiser

If you’re looking for a relaxing way to unwind after the work week’s “hump day,” then why not come out to Seven Sisters Spirits this Wednesday, May 7, to enjoy a little wine, hors d’oeuvres and light music — and support a great cause to boot.

The Marshmallow Foundation is hosting its second annual “Whiskers, Wags & Wine” fundraiser at Seven Sisters this Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. (Seven Sisters is located south of Detroit Lakes at the corner of Highway 59 and South Melissa Drive.)

The Marshmallow Foundation is a nonprofit, no kill animal shelter and rescue service, located inside Detroit Lakes’ Lucky Dog Boarding & Training Center, which provides animal control services for not only the city of Detroit Lakes but also Audubon, Callaway, Frazee, Waubun and Mahnomen.

“We are the city pound,” said Marshmallow Foundation Executive Director Sue Fiste, explaining that the organization has a contract with those communities to take in the area’s homeless cats and dogs — though they must have permission from the city before they can do so, in order to receive reimbursement for boarding the abandoned and rescued animals.

“We are licensed to hold 33 dogs and 77 cats, and we’re usually right about at that limit,” she added, noting that as of Thursday, they had about 70 cats and 28 dogs on site (more can be housed with foster families, which are always in demand).

Unlike many animal shelters, the Marshmallow Foundation is a no kill facility, which means that even after the city’s five-day contract to provide boarding fees for rescued pets runs out, the animals are not euthanized.

“We try very, very hard to reunite pets with their owners — that’s preferred,” Fiste said.

But what many local pet owners don’t know is that Detroit Lakes is one of those communities that requires all pets to be licensed — both dogs and cats — and that all pets’ rabies vaccinations must be current before they can be released to anyone, including their owners.

Once the initial five-day hold is over — they have to keep pets at least five days in order to give owners sufficient time and opportunity to claim them —the pets become eligible for adoption.

At that point, the Marshmallow Foundation assumes responsibility for providing food, shelter and veterinary services for the animals.

“After that, everything is (paid for through) fundraisers, donations and adoptions,” Fiste said.

Foster families are provided for as many pets as possible, which is why new ones are always welcome, she added.

There are many reasons why foster placement is preferable to long-term shelter housing, Fiste continued.

“Studies have proven that animals in long-term confinement will go crazy (i.e., become feral and unmanageable),” she said, adding, “Once that happens, there’s no coming back.”

What that means, she added, is that the pet will never again be able to be placed in a home, and euthanization becomes the kindest option.

“Fostering also helps us to see what the animal can tolerate,” said Marshmallow Foundation board member Jessica Hembre, who also volunteers regularly at the shelter.

“I rely heavily on input from our foster families,” Fiste agreed, adding, “We need all the input we can get to place these animals in the absolute perfect home or situation… we work hard to get these animals placed.”

Many rescued animals that come to Lucky Dog are also trained as service dogs for the blind and hearing impaired, as well as therapy dogs, such as those who are trained to be placed with veterans through the Patriot Assistance Dog (PAD) program.

The PAD program trains dogs to work with veterans who need assistance in coping with PTSD, anxiety and other behavioral disorders related to their service in the military.

“One of our dogs is at Midwest Canine Alternatives receiving training as a police service dog,” Fiste added. The ultimate goal is that this particular dog will be employed in drug detection (i.e.,

“sniffing out” drugs).

And if an animal can’t be placed locally, she also networks with other rescue facilities in the region that have a larger population base to work with, Fiste said.

While the animal is still housed at the shelter, however, and even when placed with a foster family, the Marshmallow Foundation is still responsible for its food and medical care.

Of course, all those services cost money — which is where this Wednesday’s fundraiser comes into the picture.

A $25 ticket to Whiskers, Wags & Wine will allow guests to enjoy the festivities and take a look at the unique silent auction items that will be on display throughout the evening.

Some of the silent auction items that will be up for grabs include a gift certificate to The Fireside, weekend stays at the Holiday Inn and the Jolly Fisherman Resort (near Itasca State Park), Les Kouba art prints, and WE Fest ticket packages.

“We try to think of some different ways to raise funds throughout the year,” said Hembre.

For instance, the foundation will be hosting a new event next month, a “Classic Car Cruise for the Critters,” which will be held on Sunday, June 29. The cruise will begin and end outside the Speak Easy restaurant, located at 1100 North Shore Drive in Detroit Lakes.

Registration starts at 11 a.m., with the cruise to embark at noon and return before 5:30 p.m., when the festivities conclude with dinner at the Speak Easy.

Destinations on the cruise will include The Hostel Hornet, Frazee (1:30 p.m.); Billy’s Corner Bar, Vergas (2:30 p.m.); the Cormorant Pub (4 p.m.) and Pit 611, also located in Cormorant (5 p.m.). All times are approximate.

The cost is $35 per person, and includes admission to the dinner. Tickets are available at Lucky Dog, which is located at 1478 Mallard St. (on the north side of Detroit Lakes’ industrial park).

For more information about Whiskers, Wags & Wine, as well as the Classic Car Cruise, please call the Marshmallow Foundation/Lucky Dog at 218-847-4100.

Follow Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454