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GODFREY - You have the chance to win up to $15,000 while helping Hope Animal Rescues.

The rescue center is sponsoring a 50/50 raffle where only 300 tickets will be sold for $100 per ticket. The winner takes half the pot, and the rest of the money will go to Hope Animal Rescues and the 109 dogs they care for every day.

“Rescues and shelters really struggle in the summer,” explained Jackie Spiker, director of Hope. “Literally, we’re living off our credit cards because the donations just don’t come in. Adoptions don’t happen. People are busy.”

Spiker explained that a donor pays for the salaries of the four staff members at Hope, so every penny donated can go directly to the care of the animals. Hope rescues dogs from animal control shelters and rehabilitates them so they can be adopted. One in eight of the dogs they receive is in “serious need,” coming to the rescue with dire medical concerns or intense histories of abuse and neglect.

It costs $312 to take each dog to the vet, and sometimes these vet bills can run into the thousands if a dog has serious medical issues. The adoption fee for each animal is $275. Hope relies on donors to make up the difference and maintain the building.

While Spiker expected the dogs with histories of abuse or neglect to have the most difficult journeys, she has been surprised to find that these dogs are actually “the most forgiving.” However, dogs who were never socialized often struggle to acclimate to the world and trust humans.

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Luckily, Spiker said, they have a group of “very loyal” volunteers who do everything they can to make sure the dogs are ready to be adopted. They go on walks and take the dogs to Shivers for ice cream. The volunteers and staff members at Hope make sure the dogs are ready to enter the world again, this time with a new family by their side.

“We are true to our mission; we have been for 19 years,” Spiker said. “No, we don't have a bunch of cute, fluffy dogs. But what we do have are dogs that trust humans. You can give them a treat and take it back. They’re not going to do anything because they have been taught to trust us, and that’s a testament to our volunteers. They’re there out of empathy.”

In Spiker’s experience, empathy drives Hope. Spiker and Kim Lee founded Hope Animal Rescues after they rescued 17 dogs from Mississippi and Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina. They decided to continue their mission with a focus on the Riverbend region. In the course of a year, they see about 300 dogs in a “revolving door”; when one dog is adopted, they get another within hours, often rescuing that dog from euthanasia.

The dogs at Hope stay in 8x15-feet rooms with access to a yard instead of cages. Unlike a shelter, Hope doesn’t have open hours, and they don’t share their address with the community. They are focused on rehabilitating the dogs and helping them get adopted in a safe environment. The dogs receive all of the affection and freedom they need to heal.

“They get to play, they get out, they get love and attention,” Spiker explained. “If you want to heal a dog, you don’t have to have a special trait. You just have to have empathy, love and attention.”

You can help Hope Animal Rescues by purchasing a 50/50 ticket. Tickets cost $100 and there will only be 300 tickets sold. The drawing will take place on Hope’s Facebook page the Friday after the final ticket is sold or on Oct. 15, 2024, whichever comes first. To purchase, visit HopeRescues.org. Spiker noted that the money could be “life-changing” for the winner.

“Think about what that could do for somebody,” she said. “It sure would help the dogs.”

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