It all goes to the dogs

By Martha Norwood/ Highland Lakes Publishing Correspondent

The sixth annual Putts 4 Pups golf tournament will be Nov. 6 and every year, just about now, things start hopping at the Highland Lakes Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) shelter in Marble Falls.

It all began six years ago when the board of directors had this crazy idea that they could hold a golf tournament. After all, isn’t that the way lots of non-profits raise money? Could it really be that difficult? No one knew then just how to get the thing started, and what to do if they could get it started. This was a crazy idea that developed out of the minds of some very time-generous volunteers. Some of them knew how to play golf, but many didn’t.

It took a bunch of good-hearted dog lovers putting their heads together to make this thing happen. And, happen it did. The shelter started out as a dream with a loan for land and a building to house a caretaker. It wasn’t too long until someone spoke up and said maybe they should think about how to pay for the newly acquired land and facility. The guardian angel who bought the facility for the shelter didn’t press, but no one wanted to take advantage of her generosity.   Volunteers cared for the dogs brought in from kill shelters and other places, such as pets abandoned on the side of the road, and from well-meaning owners who could no longer afford to feed their pets. Only a few dogs could be handled at that time, due to space and containment restrictions. So, what a wonderful idea it would be to have some fundraisers to help out.

The first year of the golf tournament started out a little slow. Fortunately the Highland Lakes SPCA has gifted volunteers who also play golf and belong to Barton Creek Lakeside’s golf club.  With their connections and hard work, the first tournament was born. Putts 4 Pups happens every year in the fall, and it takes countless people to put it together.

In a matter of a few years, the shelter has grown to house twice the population of rescued dogs.  Each tournament allows the shelter to add something new to their facility, such as fencing.  During the fourth annual Putts 4 Pups tournament, the big push started for a new indoor kennel.  Until that point, in dangerous weather, the dogs were moved inside with the facility manager.  This was unpleasant not only for the dogs, but also for the manager. It wasn’t much fun to try to prepare meals with a bunch of hungry dogs staring at her.  Other functions were just near impossible. Again, volunteers put their heads together and thought of other ways to raise money.

The fifth annual Putts 4 Pups tournament and a few other events raised enough money to build the new kennel. Project manager Mark Ocker worked with various contractors to get a kennel built that would be a pleasant and safe place for the dogs. With all the love and work from generous volunteers and patrons, the kennel is built, stocked with needed equipment, and running like a top.

The sixth annual Putts 4 Pups golf tournament takes place this year on Nov. 6 at 12:30 p.m.  Funds will be used to keep up the great facilities that have been built. “It takes a village,” as they say, and it takes lots of money.

“We couldn’t do it without people like Vicki Whitehead, Jeannette Murphy, Michaela Black and countless more,” said Randy Whitehead, president of the Highland Lakes SPCA. “These women have been critical to the care of the precious dogs they raise funding for.”

See the progress by logging onto www.highlandlakesspca.com. Register there to play in this year’s tournament, sponsor part of the tournament, volunteer or just check it out.

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