The 10th annual Cause for Paws wine tasting event and silent auction event will once again raise important funds for the Paul Warner Animal Rescue to help sick, injured and homeless dogs.
The rescue’s motto, “Help for the helpless. Hope for the hopeless. Homes for the homeless,” describes the work of the small group of volunteers, led by animal activist Hellie Smith, who find homeless, sick or abused animals all year no matter the weather.
The Cause for Paws event is scheduled Saturday, Jan. 26, from 6-8 p.m. at the KC Hall in Paris. Besides wine, beer and liquor tasting, those attending will enjoy hors d’oevres as well as an extensive silent auction featuring animal related items, gift baskets, food and a variety of donations from local businesses and restaurants. Proceeds sustain the work of the rescue for most of the year, according to Craig Smith, who set up the 501(c) 3 to establish the rescue.
Th evening concludes with a dance at the Paris American Legion featuring the 71 Band from 8:30 p.m. to midnight. Those attending the event may attend the dance free. The public is invited to attend the dance for a free will donation.
For Hellie Smith the work to help animals began when she was a child. “I remember getting on my bicycle and riding from our home on Main Street to the animal shelter,” Smith recalled. “When I came home with a dog, Mom was great to let me help it.”
Smith and her volunteers field phone calls and texts almost daily from local residents who see an animal in danger, homeless or injured. The puppies or dogs are recovered, either by Smith talking the previous owner into surrendering the dog, winning the homeless dog’s trust and capturing it or — in some cases — using a trap to save the dog.
Cherie Bibo, Smith’s sister, said it may take multiple times visiting with an owner before the dog is rescued, “but Hellie never gives up.” Once the dog is safely in the rescue’s control, there is trip to a veterinarian for a complete physical.
“Unfortunately, most of the dogs are heartworm positive,” Smith explained. The treatment that follows is extremely expensive and requires the animal to live quietly. Once the dog is heartworm free, it is neutered or spayed and then found a home.
Smith does not reject a dog for Paul Warner due to its illness or injuries. “I can’t put a dog down because of a broken leg or other injury because it’s expensive,” she said. “Each animal deserves to be helped.”
And while physical injuries are expensive to treat, Smith emphasized those dogs who have been abused or come from hoarding or puppy mills are the most heartbreaking for her.
One such dog is Juliet, who is being adopted by a University of Illinois vet student, Smith said.
“Juliet is a such a damaged soul,” Smith observed, noting the vet student specifically asked to adopt the dog not only to help her but to become a better vet.
A visit to the Smith house includes meeting all five of the family’s dogs — all rescues — including Jack Sparrow, a pug; two Boston terriers and assorted older dogs who have found a forever home.
Smith is quick to note the rescue would not exist without the man who left everything to animals — the late Paul Warner. “He wanted everything he owned to be sold and the money used for the animals,” she said.
The wine tasting event — a January tradition in Edgar County — is a great deal of work, Smith said, but thanks to the volunteers, provides funds to help the rescued dogs. She said the wine for the tasting event is provided by R & J Stores. Volunteers pour the wine for those attending who are provided with a souvenir wine glass to use during the evening.
Brenda Wright is in charge of the raffles and auction for the evening while Cherie Bibo and Michelle Vaughn help with technology and banking. Tickets are available in advance and generally sell out quickly, Bibo noted.
To purchase tickets, call or text Wright at 217-264-2761, Mike Morris at 217-822-6630, Sandy Elliott at 217-251-8889 or Bibo at 217-251-3734. Tickets are also available during regular business hours at The Prairie Press.