Mississippi College

Jackson Animal Shelter Gets Helping Hand at Backyard Brawl

September 8, 2008

Backyard Brawl fans donated cash to a no-kill animal shelter that's struggling to keep its doors open. But much more help is needed following Saturday's football game between rivals Mississippi College and Millsaps.

"It will help pay the bills, but won't solve our long term problems," said Jerri Bennett, executive director of the Community Animal Rescue and Adoption shelter, of donations from fans at the weekend contest. It costs $1,000 a day to operate the CARA shelter, she said.

While the football classic wasn't a success for the MC Choctaws, it was a winner for CARA. Supporters say hundreds of dollars were raised, but exact totals were not available. The game on the Millsaps campus also raised awareness about CARA's plight.

The Majors won the football battle 42 to 6, but fans of Millsaps and the MC Choctaws were on the same side - both agree that CARA is a charity worth rallying around. It was the second year in a row the Backyard Brawl showcased CARA and urged fans to consider making animal adoptions. About 20 dogs were brought to the game on the Jackson campus.

"We need a new shelter bad," said Carlene Garrett of Clinton, the group's assistant cat manager. "We are in desperate need of cash donations."

The shelter may have to close at the end of the year if a steady stream of cash donations fail to come through, Garrett said.

A report on the exact amount of cash raised from Saturday's football game wasn't available Monday morning.

CARA is home to 300 dogs and 70 cats at its headquarters at 960 North Flag Chapel Road in Jackson. Its shelter was built in the 1970s. CARA has operated the shelter at the present location since 2001.

At Saturday night's game, CARA volunteers collected funds at tables near the ticket gate on the Millsaps campus and others toted collection buckets to the stands. Wearing CARA T-shirts, children from area schools also helped show off dogs up for adoption.

CARA staffers say about a dozen people were handed applications to make adoptions.

Last year's Backyard Brawl at MC raised about $1,000 in CARA donations from fans from both Jackson metro rivals.

The work and strategy sessions continued immediately after Saturday's game. Said Janet Madden, the CARA shelter manager, "We are really in a dilemma right now. We are working hard to raise money."

CARA leaders will gather for an emergency meeting Monday night to develop a game plan for the future. "We haven't given up yet," Madden said.

Besides making a pitch for more donations, Madden said the shelter always needs more volunteers. "Volunteers make a big difference when they come out to the shelter. There are a lot of things volunteers can do."

CARA supporters hope to raise funds at a Dog Days of Summer barbecue on Saturday, Sept. 13 at 10 a.m. at the Laurel Street Park in the Belhaven area, said Bennett, a former Mississippi College professor. The next big event for the non-profit organization will be the second annual Animal House Party Oct 30 at the Mississippi Museum of Art. The CARA event begins at 6 p.m.

For more information, contact CARA staffers at 601-922-7575. Or go to carams.org

PHOTO: Hannah Kanengiser, 11, 6th grader at Pearl Junior High, holds one of several dogs brought to the game and available for adoption through CARA.

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