Pet project: Equity Bank hosts events benefiting Good Shepherd Humane Society

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

At Equity Bank, it’s not just about the customers. The bank takes customers’ pets into account, too.

Between August and September, the bank will be celebrating pets at its branches in Berryville and Eureka Springs.

Elizabeth Kelley, president of the Eureka Springs branch, said both branches will host events benefiting Good Shepherd Humane Society over the two months. The idea for the celebration, Kelley said, comes from the bank’s love of animals.

“Pets are just so incredibly special to the partners of our bank, and we know they are to our customers as well,” Kelley said. “I think our community just has a heart for pets. Pets cheer us. They exercise us. They amuse us, comfort us and protect us.”

During August and September, Kelley said, the bank will donate $25 to Good Shepherd for every new checking or savings account opened by new customers. New customers will receive an Equity Bank pet food/water bowl, Kelley added, and any customer can put a photo of their pet on their debit card for free.

“We hope to gather lots of funding for Good Shepherd over these two months, because it is their job to find forever families for pets that don’t have one yet,” Kelley said. “Plus, we’re going to have some fun.”

Kelley described the fundraising events the bank will have for Good Shepherd, saying several fundraisers are planned at both bank branches. The Wags & Whiskers Beauty Pageant will take place at the Eureka Springs branch at 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 25, where prizes will be given for the best dressed, most talented, most photogenic and most congenial pet. The entry free is a donation to Good Shepherd, and there will be a bake sale with human and pet treats.

Deretha Walker, president of the Berryville branch, said she’s looking forward to the events happening in Berryville. These events include the Cutest Pet Photo Contest, which allows customers to vote on pet photos to determine the cutest. The cutest pet, Walker said, will receive a doggie bag full of pet supplies like a new collar, leash, doggie treats and shampoo.

Several events will take place at both branches, including the Billions of Bones Contest, Paws and Professionals Day and Adopt-a-Pet Campaign. The Billions of Bones contest gives customers a chance to guess how many doggie bones are in a jar, with the winner at the Berryville branch receiving a $25 gift certificate to Kayla’s Pet Grooming and the winner at the Eureka Springs branch receiving a $25 gift certificate to Blackie’s Backyard.

Kelley said she’s most looking forward to the Paws and Professionals Day, where employees will bring their pets to work.

“We’re encouraging our customers to come in and meet their banker and meet their banker’s pet,” Kelley said. “We’re guaranteed to see some dogs, some kitties and maybe even a chicken or two.”

The idea behind the celebration is to get more of Good Shepherd’s animals adopted, Kelley said, so both branches will have posters of pets who are up for adoption.

“While everyone’s feeling warm and fuzzy about pets, we can get some adoptions done,” Kelley said.

Jay Fusaro, president of Good Shepherd, thanked the bank for thinking of the animals. Good Shepherd doesn’t receive any federal funding, Fusaro said, so donations are vital to keep the animals safe and healthy.

“About half our revenue comes from the thrift stores, and then we have to go out and raise the other half through donations and fundraisers like this,” Fusaro said.

The average stay of an animal at Good Shepherd is two months, Fusaro said, and it costs the shelter $500 per stay. That’s true only if the animals are healthy, he added.

“Some animals that come in to us are in very, very tough shape and require a significant amount of money just to get them to a point where they can be adopted,” Fusaro said.

He continued, saying the biggest expenses at the shelter are veterinary services, vet supplies and food.

“Imagine taking care of approximately 80 animals 365 days a year and just how much care that requires,” Fusaro said. “Our top priority is that they are in a safe, clean and sanitary environment, and we’re going to do everything we can to promote adoptions for them.”

To do that, he said, it takes money.

“We’re very appreciative to people and companies that want to donate to us, and we believe we are really good stewards of that money,” Fusaro said. “It’s important for us to have very prominent companies in the community wanting to reach out and help Good Shepherd. We’re just really thrilled to have companies step forward and want to help.”

For Kelley, it’s a no-brainer.

“I’ve seen pets save people’s lives. My little dog helped a family member that was very dear to me get through a really, really rough time,” Kelley said. “I think everybody has a story like that, and there’s pets in the shelter that have work to do. They have people they need to love and save, and they need our protection and our love.”

Walker agreed, saying she cherishes every moment with her 14-year-old Shih Tzu.

“We all just love our pets. They become family members,” Walker said. “When we go on vacation, we hire a house sitter to come sit with our house and our dog, because we won’t just leave him anywhere.”

She continued, “Pets become very much a part of the community, and we want to spread that out to the community and let Good Shepherd Human Society place pets where they can live in homes for 14 years like my dog.”

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