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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ On a rainy evening on June 24, the Great Outdoors Restaurant literally went to the dogs. The Humane Animal Treatment Charity (HATC) and The High Springs Women’s Club hosted a “Yappy Hour” on the patio of The Great Outdoors Restaurant in High Springs.

A crowd of some 60 people, many with their well-behaved leashed canine companions, attended the fundraiser event despite the rain that had been falling most of the afternoon. The event started at 5 p.m., just about the time the rain stopped, and the crowd slowly filtered in.

The canine friendly event has been popular and well attended in the past. “The rain kept some people from coming, the ones that did were very generous in supporting our efforts to save animals and provide crucially needed funds to support volunteer no-kill rescue facilities,” said Arlene Levine, Vice-President of HATC.

HATC is an all-volunteer non-profit charity. Their mission is to raise funds to aid small all-volunteer humane no-kill animal rescue facilities that save unwanted and abused animals and prepare them for adoption. All net proceeds raised by the charity are given to these rescue groups. No state, federal or local funding is provided as the charity relies solely on the support and financial aid of local organizations and individuals.

While the event's purpose is to raise money from participating humans, much of the focus is on their canine companions. There was a doggy menu, including peanut-based ice cream for the dogs. For the owners, the Great Outdoors had their Thursday special offering of one-half priced bottles of wine. Musical entertainment was offered by the popular duo Gosia and Ali.

Attendees were treated to a silent auction of items spread out over two long tables with various gift packages, including 13 decorated baskets filled with items supplied from local businesses. There were also popular games enjoyed by the crowd such as Ring Toss, Pin the Bone on the Puppy, Trivia Questions and Guess the Number of Biscuits in the Jar. Prizes were awarded for game winners as well as a raffle of prize packages.

Organizations supported by HATC include the Retirement Home for Horses at Mill Creek, K9 Services German Shepherd Rescue, Sunrise Wildlife Rehabilitation, Second Chance Rescue& Rehoming, Helping Hands Pet Rescue and Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary.

While HATC and the Women's Club Sponsored Yappy Hour, the event enjoyed communitywide support. Local businesses and individuals donated baskets and prizes as well as financial aid. Support came from The Great Outdoors, Pink Flamingo, Alachua Animal Hospital, High Springs Playhouse, Bare Essential Massage, Little Cottage Spa, Gene's Gifts, Sam and Becky Tift and other individuals.

“The rain limited the turnout, but the support we got from those that showed was great,” said HATC President Gene Levine. “We made over $4,000 at the event and have a number of donations that are still coming in. It’s great to see the support and know so many care about the welfare of these animals.”

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