Nuzzles & Co. places bets on casino night to help with animal rescues
Animal lovers will have a chance to roll the dice and place some bets to support the sheltering of some furry critters at Nuzzles & Co.’s Casino Night fundraiser.
The card dealers will be ready for the event, which will benefit the local no-kill shelter, at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 25, at Skullcandy, 6301 N. Landmark Drive at Kimball Junction.
Jamie Usry, the new executive director for Nuzzles & Co., said there is no advance registration. Guests will instead pay an entrance fee of $25, and then donate more money throughout the night to play the games.
“The reason why it’s legal for us to host a casino night such as this in Utah is because the people are not winning any cash money,” Usry said. “They are just donating money to play.”
The games of the evening will include craps, roulette and Texas Hold ‘Em, and there will also be a twist in the gameplay, according to Usry.
“We will also have the opportunity to reverse a bad bet,” she said. “For $10, you can basically buy a mulligan. The dealers will be in on this, and they will even ask you if you want to reverse the bet.”
Players will win chips that can be exchanged for opportunity drawing tickets, Usry said.
Opportunity drawing items will include Mountain West Cider and Tito’s Vodka baskets, ski passes, hotel stays and restaurant gift certificates.
“Most of these are basically fun weekend experiences, rather than items,” Usry said.
While the games and fundraising will be the main focus of the night, Nuzzles will provide some fuzzy distractions for a few hours, according to Usry.
“We will bring in some puppies that people can cuddle,” she said. “We may also have a few adult dogs there as well, but we found that older dogs get tired more quickly.”
In addition, a cash bar will be open throughout the night where all proceeds will go toward the shelter.
“We’ll also have other flat-out donation opportunities offered throughout the night,” Usry said.
Fundraisers such as Casino Night are critical for Nuzzles, according to Usry.
“Since we are a nonprofit, we don’t get any tax funding,” she said. “We rely on donor dollars to run. And this is a great way for the community to not only give back, but also have fun giving back. Any money people give will save actual animal lives.”
Nuzzles & Co. needs more than $1 million a year to operate, Usry said.
The money supports programs such as the transfer and rescue of pets, a spay-and-neuter clinic which also provides all medical needs for the animals, vaccines and microchipping for rescue animals as well as for animals owned by the public.
“We also have volunteer and foster care programs and a training and behavior program to get pets ready for adoption,” Usry said. “We have an on-site trainer who works with the dogs to make sure they are adoptable, and the trainer also offers pay-for-training classes to the public.”
One of the programs that is dear to Usry is the Purple Paw program.
“This helps survivors of domestic violence who need to put their animals in a safe place while they stabilize their lives after getting out of dangerous situations,” she said. “The last thing domestic violence survivors need is to lose a pet, which, more than likely, supported them through the trauma.”
Usry was named Nuzzles’ executive director earlier this month, and has worked with the local animal welfare community since 2000.
In 2011, she became the development director at the Humane Society of Utah, which is the biggest private shelter in Utah.
During her eight years there, Usry doubled the size of the shelter and increased animal transfers by more than 300 percent. She also served as development consultant at the Cache Humane Society.
Usry is honored to join Nuzzles & Co., which she said relies on collaborations.
“Nuzzles doesn’t accept animal surrenders from owners,” she said. “We, instead, work with shelters that don’t have much of a budget, or kennel space. And we take animals that would otherwise be euthanized and transfer them to other shelters. We also take a few with us so we can rehabilitate them for adoption as well.”
Usry feels Nuzzles & Co. has opened new opportunities in the rescue sector.
“I think they’ve been doing a great job collaborating with the Native American reservations, including the Ute, Navajo and Goshute nations,” she said. “This is a good way for us to help these communities that no one is serving, yet. They don’t have a lot of resources, and we have been able to get a jump start. And I think I’ll be able to add to the team and collaborate with more organizations to save even more animals lives through Nuzzles.”
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