Helping Strays hosting Slumber Pawty

Pictured, Sarah Bush with Helping Strays lies with Billie in a kennel, much like those participating in the Slumber Pawty will. 

Local political leaders, shelter volunteers and more  are joining forces to benefit Helping Strays at its first-ever Slumber Pawty on Aug. 10-11.

For the event, 21 individuals will be spending the night in an animal’s kennel to raise awareness and funds for the organization. 

“It is something different, something fun that helps raise awareness about the importance of adoption and shelter animals, and it was a fun way to raise money,” Helping Strays Shelter Director Bill Dahlkamp said. 

Gateway Pet Guardians in St. Louis began the area’s Slumber Pawty events in 2017 to raise awareness and funds for that shelter. 

That year, only Gateway Pet Guardians participated, with the Belleville Area Humane Society joining in the next year. 

This year, there are 15 area shelters participating, making this the first such collaborative event of its type in the country. 

“We had no idea how wildly successful (this event) would be – both as an awareness builder and fundraiser for our shelter,” Gateway Pet Guardians Executive Director Jamie Case said. “We knew such a great idea had to be shared with like-minded shelters, and we’re thrilled to have 15 shelters working together to help impact the lives of thousands of homeless and neglected animals.” 

Helping Strays learned about this opportunity from its membership in the Purina Pet Loves Coalition.

The Slumber Pawty raises money because each person staying in a kennel has committed to raising $1,000 minimum, with the shelter aiming to get $25,000 from the event. 

Dahlkamp said the shelter picked that number because it costs approximately $500 per animal to get them in the shelter, vetted, vaccinated and care for until they are adopted. 

That means if the shelter meets its goal, it will have the funds for 50 animals. 

Those staying in the kennels include Dahlkamp, state Sen. Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo), Monroe County Commissioner Vicki Koerber, Monroe County Sheriff Neal Rohlfing, U.S. Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) and Columbia Mayor Kevin Hutchinson, along with various shelter volunteers and community members.

“As the loving parent of a dog adopted from Helping Strays shelter, I know firsthand the tremendous work this organization does,” Schimpf said. “I’m proud of their success and I’m honored to play a small role in promoting their efforts.”

“Helping Strays has done many things throughout the county, reducing the number of stray animals, educating people on the importance of spay and neuter and saving the county thousands of dollars on euthanasia,” Hutchinson agreed.
“As elected officials, I feel it is important to make people aware of the work done by Helping Strays.”

To encourage individuals to donate and facilitate participants enjoying their time, there will be several attractions at the shelter. 

Those will include movies in the lobby that guests can watch with their dogs, food and drinks, live music, a bonfire, volleyball, yard games, board games a snow cone machine and an opportunity for children to read to the shelter animals and those spending the night with them.

“We wanted to make it fun with our participants like a real slumber party,” Dahlkamp said. 

While the event runs from 2 p.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 10-11, the shelter will be closed from the public from approximately 8 or 9 p.m. to 10 a.m. 

People can still keep up with those staying overnight, however, as they will be active on social media spreading the message of Helping Strays and striving to meet their fundraising goal. The event will also be live-streamed, which means it will be broadcast live on Helping Strays’ social media. 

Dahlkamp said those who attend the event will get the benefit of learning more about animal shelters. 

“People don’t really realize what goes on in a shelter,” he said. “Sometimes, they have preconceived notions about what goes on in a shelter. They think that shelters are bad or shelters are just a cruel or not ideal.”

Dahlkamp also encouraged people to donate to help the shelter accomplish its goal. 

“Every dollar that’s raised will go directly to the care of the animals and getting them adopted,” he said. “We always say that’s really important because the more money we raise, the more animals we can help…The ultimate goal is to rehabilitate them, get them healthy, make sure their stable and get them into good homes. We’re able to do that through the generosity of the community.” 

There will be a way to donate at the Slumber Pawty, but those interested can do so beforehand at 

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