Return of the Fall Furr Ball

Sebastian Squire, News Reporter

On Oct. 15, 2022, the Blue Mountain Humane Society (BMHS) held its annual Furr Ball event at the Walla Walla County Fairgrounds.

The Fall Furr Ball is a black-tie formal event which helps fund the organization’s rescue operations for animals, including dogs, cats and the occasional rabbit or chicken. The Furr Ball features local drinks, a silent and live auction and live music.

Chief Executive Officer of the BMHS Amanda Wernert  summed up the mission statement of the organization as promoting compassion toward animals. 

“[The mission is a] love for animals and making sure that they’re taken care of,” Wernert said. “We’re that safety net to get them to a better place, to get them into forever homes [and] to take care of whatever needs they might have. That is what we are here for. We’re a community resource, [one] that loves to take care of animals. It’s what we do; [it’s] our heart and soul.”

The organization has attracted many Whitties, such as alumna Athen Reid and Provost and Dean of the Faculty Dr. Alzada Tipton. Reid is the Volunteer Programs Manager and Tipton is the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors.

Reid emphasized the importance of animal health services and volunteerism to the organization’s mission and success.

Blue Mountain Humane Society members at the Fall Furr Ball. Photo by Aidan Tribolet.

“We’re now about vaccinations and subsidized spay and neuter,” Reid said. “I think that there’s a yin and yang there to help the humans by helping the animals.”

Tipton recognized the importance of this year’s Furr Ball; it is the first time the event has been held in person since the advent of the pandemic.

[The Furr Ball] hasn’t happened in its usual fashion for a couple of years, so it will be very exciting to be back in person, as it is a very fun event,” Tipton said. “It brings together people in Walla Walla from all different perspectives and backgrounds in a way I haven’t seen elsewhere: everybody is united in their love for pet animals and their desire to help those pets in need.”

The BMHS also hosts another major fundraising event during the year.

“[We have] a 5k called ‘Dog Jog’ in May. [It’s] a little less extravagant, but it’s an opportunity for people to bring their dogs,” Wernert said. “So we have the two events in a year. ” 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a significant uptick in the number of pet adoptions as many individuals transitioned toward remote work. According to the Sheltered Animals Count, a nonprofit that specializes in aggregating statistics regarding animal shelters, there was an overall increase in intakes of new animals by 2.9 percent from January 2021 through June 2022.

From January 2022 to June 2022, the Population Balance Calculation, a measure of how many animals left the shelters, was 94.2 percent, meaning that roughly 5.8 percent of animals that entered shelters remained there as of June 2022.

This is reflected in an overall increase in the number of animals in shelters compared to levels during the pandemic. Numbers are now returning to their pre-pandemic levels. 

The BMHS has experienced these nationwide trends. 

“We have seen a spike in surrenders this summer. We had a waiting list for surrenders,” Reid said. “So a lot of what we are seeing is a pattern having to do with housing in the community, where COVID did mess up a lot of family incomes. That changed housing situations, and it’s very difficult to find housing that allows pets in Walla Walla, so that is directly affecting the shelter.”

Tipton encourages students who are missing their own pets to consider volunteering as a way to spend time with animals.

Volunteering there is a great way to not miss your dog or cat from home quite as much as you do otherwise,” Tipton said. 

Students who are interested in learning more about the organization, their philanthropic activities or adopting pets are encouraged to visit the BMHS website.