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ARC ends 2019 with successful last-minute drive

January 8, 2020
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

Following the most successful Starlight Auction in several years, the Animal Refuge Center in North Fort Myers rounded out 2019 with a very successful last-minute fundraiser that will help the animal rescue provide medical care for the cats and dogs in its care.

ARC raised more than $3,700 in its end-of-year fundraising drive, which Betty Hughes, ARC treasurer and supporter of the organization for nearly 20 years.

"It's for our wonderful procrastinators in the community. What we received will help treat eight dogs for heartworm and, since we treat about 25 dogs per year, that's a good amount of money towards that," said Hughes, who added it costs about $400 to treat a dog for heartworm and three to four months to eradicate the heartworm, which would prevent the animal from being adopted.

Hughes said they treated 15 dogs for heartworm in December alone, and all of them got adopted. Many local shelters can't afford to treat animals for heartworm, she said.

The money could also go toward fixing torn ACLs on dogs, perform exploratory surgery and tumor removal for cats, as well as eye surgery, Hughes said.

"We have had many cats come through here who have had a tumor removed. Kittens, if not cared for, can get upper respiratory problems, which can tax the eyes," Hughes said.

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This past year was an amazing one at ARC. Hundreds of pets received lifesaving medical procedures, while others were treated for heartworm and then adopted into loving homes with people who could ensure they never get heartworm again.

On the fundraising front, the Starlight Auction raised more the $200,000, the most successful auction in four years, Hughes said.

"We were ecstatic from the response from the guests. Maybe it was because of our 25th anniversary and people got excited or the complimentary champagne, there was magic in the air that night," Hughes said.

Hughes hopes 2020 will continue the success, since fundraising is a yearlong, ongoing endeavor for ARC.

"January is a good month for donations. People say they didn't get that one in during the holidays and want to start the year off right," Hughes said. "We've had people tour the shelter last week and donate $1,000. That's significant for a first-time visitor," Hughes said "We're very pleased with how the community supports our endeavors."

Among the goals in 2020 will be to build a new cat building that can house between 80 and 90 cats, which is in the permitting process already and for which the balance was raised at the auction.

Hughes reminds people that only half the ARC property is being utilized. If they could build on all the 23 acres it owns, they would be able to house more than 800 dogs and cats, a far cry from the 70 or 80 it housed when Hughes first started on the board 19 years ago.

"There is huge potential for ARC to double in size. Right now we have 400 cats and dogs daily. We could double that with double the support from the community," Hughes said. "The sky's the limit. We've seen such growth and I'm certain there will be continued growth."

ARC is open Wednesday through Sunday for adoptions and tours from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is located at 18011 Old Bayshore Road.

For more information, call 731-3535 or find them online at



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