Sweethearts’ Dinner raises funds for Little Victories, the only no-kill animal shelter in tri-state

Little Victories Animal Rescue, the only no-kill animal shelter in the Tri-State, kicked off its first fundraiser of the year at its annual Sweethearts’ Dinner Monday evening at Rocco’s Ristorante in Ceredo.

Board President Bill Bartlett said funds from the event go directly to the animals, which cost approximately $1,000 every day to care for with $10,000 in veterinarian bills monthly.

“We’ve got a big facility with a lot of animals that need taken care of, so events like this are critical to us to make it work,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett said the Sweethearts’ Dinner is one of four big events Little Victories plans each year, along with the Flip-Flop Ball during the summer and the Howl-O-Ween Ball and Turkey Trot 5k Run and Walk in the fall.

Heather James, executive assistant at Little Victories, said the event sold out for the first time this year since its debut in 2014.

“The Rocco’s Sweethearts’ Dinner is one of our favorite events,” James said. “We’re so lucky that Rocco’s is willing to do this for us.”

Bartlett said the work done at Little Victories is important to the animals as well as the community.

“One of the most important things we’re trying to do is to educate kids about how important it is, when you get older and get an animal and you’re a caregiver, to spay and neuter,” Bartlett said. “Spay and neuter laws in the state are lax, in this region they’re bad, and so we’re trying to educate people on how important it is.”

The facility currently houses around 100 animals, and Bartlett said its priority is to make sure each one is properly vetted and comfortable while awaiting adoption.

“The reality is these animals need to be cared for,” Bartlett said. “We’ve got 13 board members, including myself, that truly care about the animals. We care about our staff, we care about how the animals are treated and how they’re taken care of.”

Bartlett said even animals with behavioral problems are welcome, and the staff at Little Victories is prepared to do whatever it takes to make sure they can adapt to a new family.

“If we take in an animal that is in trouble, we train it and work with it and make it adoptable,” Bartlett said. “It’s a really wonderful organization with a great staff that operates the whole thing for us.”

James said every animal rescued is fully vetted with all vaccines, as well as spay and neuter, prior to adoption. James said over 5,000 animals have found loving homes since Little Victories was founded in 2003.

Bartlett said donations are always welcome as well as volunteers to help take care of the animals.

The Sweethearts’ Dinner event included a silent auction for original art, wine tastings, pet services and more.

Hanna Pennington can be contacted at [email protected].