Sara Gromley

The Humane Society of Southern Arizona will host its 15th annual Puttin' on the Dog fundraiser at 6 p.m. Friday, April 26, at the Hilton El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort. Sara Gromley, public relations coordinator for the HSSA, spoke with the Weekly about the impact of the event, which includes food, wine, live music and silent and live auctions that attendees can enjoy while accompanied by their pets. Tickets are $125 in advance and $150 at the door. You can get them at hssaz.org.

What is the Puttin' on the Dog event all about?

It's been voted Tucson's best special (event) for charity six years in a row. It's just a wonderful time for a really good cause. People can enjoy delicious food and wine from Tucson Originals, and there's going to be live music, including Tesoro and Amber Norgaard. It's one of the largest silent auctions in town, so we have hundreds of one-of-a-kind items, and the live auction is also a big hit.

What kind of items will be available at the silent auction this year?

We have a lot of artist's pieces, some of which are really beautiful pet-themed items and some that are Southwestern-themed. We've got jewelry; we've got entertainment packages. There is a huge variety.

How much money have you raised through Puttin' on the Dog?

Last year, we raised over $210,000, which directly benefited the animals in our care. We had 1,100 people and 100 dogs attend.

Does it benefit the Humane Society in other ways?

It's also a really nice community outreach effort. We get to share some of our success stories every year, and really share our mission and what we do.

What else will be going on at the event?

Every year we have what's called Fund a Cause, and we highlight some of our biggest success stories. This year, we have two puppies that were found in a dumpster not too long ago and they got adopted by these phenomenal families. They will be bringing them to show how well they're doing. We've got two Bassets that were adopted, one of which had to have both of his eyes removed. The one Basset that still has his vision (is) kind of the blind dog's guide.

What do you hope attendees will learn about the HSSA?

That we take in over 10,000 animals and that every little bit (of support) helps since we are a nonprofit. A lot of people leave knowing what some of our needs are. They might become donors or volunteers or even just ambassadors out in the community spreading the word about responsible pet ownership—spaying and neutering, or adopting.

What has been the most rewarding part of working at the Humane Society?

It's great to work with such a group of dedicated, committed people. It's very uplifting. You can see every day the impact that it can make. We take in animals in all kinds of conditions, severely abused or undersocialized or in extreme medical need. With a little bit of love and compassion and a little bit of help from the community, the animals can be turned around.