It was an immensely momentous year for the Weyburn Humane Society as they labored towards the long-anticipated replacement of their current shelter. The work is not quite done yet, but with the cherished support of the community they have made leaps and bounds towards their goal. Randy Bakaluk, President of the Humane Society's Board, looked back on the year 2023 and fondly recounted some of his favorite memories from their journey.

"Our biggest event was probably our vehicle raffle," he noted. "We had support from a lot of businesses in town that put on the barbecues for us, and other businesses have helped us in countless other ways. And of course the public, they just they just reacted to it beyond our belief."

The raffle for a new Ford Bronco grossed $150,000 in funds for the organization last August, with the final draw being hosted by a local dealership.

"They were very, very accommodating to us at Great Plains Ford," said Bakaluk. "They held a promotion where if you bought a vehicle, you get a ticket to the raffle and that went over really well. Then they sponsored the barbecue and everything for our final draw, which again, brought in a little even more for us on that day."

Leading up to the big draw, the Humane Society joined forces with many other businesses and organizations to sell tickets for the Raffle. Their pop-up barbecues could be found in parking lots and street corners all across town. They became a hub for the community to gather and enjoy a quick hotdog or hamburger under the Summer sun, with many regulars returning for the by-donation meal even after purchasing their raffle tickets weeks before. Bakaluk thought back to one joint event in particular that truly displayed the giving nature of their organization.

"That barbecue at the radio station went really well," he recalled. "We sold donuts and tickets at that one, but we donated the donut proceeds to Isaiah Evans because we felt we needed to give something back to the public for being so generous to us."

Outside of their raffle fundraiser, staff at the shelter were also kept busy by the amount of supply donations that streamed in steadily throughout the year. One business made it exceptionally easy for their customers to make a donation to the Humane Society, with two rounds of donations making a large impact in the quality of care available to the animals. 

"They've been astronomical down at Pet Valu," Randy gleamed. "They do a biannual fundraiser for us that always goes super well. The first one was more of a cash fundraiser, and I think that was around $5000, then the second one in October was product. There was way over a truckload of stuff that we had to bring in, so it was also very successful."

The last year did not come without its challenges, though. The number one problem that the Humane Society faced was being restricted by the size of their current facility, and the number of animals in their care.

"Our biggest trouble is overloading of animals," stated Bakaluk. "Like right now? We are way past our max limit of cats. It's been really challenging on the staff and just financially looking after them because you set up for X amount of animals and when you're like two or three times that it really tells on you. But again, the public really came through for us. We'd put out a word and people would just flood us with supplies, so that's something we really do appreciate."

Weyburn's generosity was a consistent topic when reviewing the organizations past year of operations. Southern Range Well Servicing, the Weyburn Oilmen, and Cymri 36 Pet Rescue all closed out the Summer with sizeable contributions towards the ongoing shelter project. On the final day of August, a large lump sum donation from the estate of a lifelong supporter sent the Humane Society hurtling towards their dream of a new home.

"Our biggest donor was Violet Delrose Moore, from her estate. She gave us over $200,000, which was a really, really good kickoff to the project," said Bakaluk. "Since then, we've had a couple of other sponsors that have come forward. We've got our indoor kennels all sponsored. We've got a few of the outdoor kennels sponsored, our lobby as well."

To date, donations from the estate of Violet Delrose Moore have totaled $300,000 for the Humane Society, fueling her vision for the organization as one of its original founding members. 

More sponsorship opportunities still exist for the new building, which is due to arrive at the site of its new home near the intersection of 18th St. and East Avenue. Bakaluk said that the building itself is purchased and ready, but site prep and further engineering approvals are needed before we'll see it delivered. 

"We have the land lease assigned by the city and we have the building. The company is ready to bring it out here," he explained. "We just hooked up with a local designer to make the floorplan and blueprints, and that will go off to an engineer to get sealed. I've also talked with another company that's willing to be our project manager out there, so it's picking up steam. With any building project you always have to hurry up and wait!"

Looking ahead to the New Year, Bakaluk said that more funds will be needed to complete their project and move into their new home, which means more fundraising plans are already in the works. Due to the success of their previous vehicle raffle, he said that we can expect another shot at winning a new set of wheels in 2024.

"We're in talks with a few companies who suggested that they would sponsor the vehicle, so we're looking at possibly doing another vehicle raffle," shared Randy. "We're also looking at another possible major fundraiser, like the one we used to have in the Fall called Raise the Woof. We kind of put that on hold for a little while but we're looking at going back."

Supporters wishing to make their contributions towards the new home of the Weyburn Humane Society need not wait for their next announcement on social media. They are currently offering three unique ways for anyone to donate, that can greatly improve the lives of the animals in their care. Regular monthly installments can be donated directly from your bank account by contacting the shelter and filling out the appropriate paperwork, in any amount that donors are comfortable with. Bricks can be purchased by sponsors or those wishing to memorialize a family member or pet for $100 each, which Bakaluk says will "remain on display until the building falls down". And the shelter is also collecting recyclable bottles and cans with assistance from SARCAN. That program raised $22,000 in 2023, proving that many small contributions can make a big difference. 

The Humane Society also hopes to sort out a few bugs with their website in the New Year. For now, the best place to stay up to date with their latest fundraising announcements is by following their Facebook Page

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