COVID-19 and a chance of rain were unable to put a damper on New Leash on Life’s annual Spay-Ghetti Dinner, which raised an estimated $4,000 for the nonprofit’s “Spay it Forward” fund.

“The event went really well,” New Leash on Life Executive Director Angela Chapman said. “We actually served about 220 meals even though we had to change to curbside pickup and to-go meals, which is about what we’ve done in the years before.”

Proceeds from the fundraiser are used to help pet owners cover unplanned medical expenses during spay and neuter services, from copays to infections. Event sponsors Painturo’s, Performance Food Group and Visionary Design Group covered setup costs like food preparation and advertising, so all the money will directly benefit animals.

“We may have an animal that comes in with a hernia, so when the vet does the spay and neuter they can take care of that too,” New Leash on Life board member Judy Wallace said. “I see a lot of people who bring their pets in and want to do the right thing, but they can’t afford it. This is really helpful for them.”

Many community members identify with that cause and make a habit of attending the Spay-Ghetti Dinner to pitch in.

“I’ve tried to support it every year,” Nancy Moore said. “I’ve adopted a dog from New Leash on Life, and they had to sew him up and do surgery. I love that they can save more pets and save more people, because really the pets save their owners.”

Other diners like Laura Headley were checking out the event for the first time.

“I’ve supported New Leash on Life before, but not by eating,” she said. “I’ve actually helped trap feral cats for them to spay or neuter, which helps keep them from overpopulating.”

Headley came to the fundraiser with her friend Kathy Richardson, a regular at the Spay-Ghetti Dinner.

“This is a good way for me to help out,” Richardson said. “It’s great food for a great cause.”

Attendees were served spaghetti, salad, bread and a drink with their meal ticket, and afterward they could stop by a dessert bar and name their price for homemade baked goods.

“We raised about $1,500 from the bake sale alone,” Chapman said. “We’ve started offering our spay and neuter services again, and because the costs for different services are so varied we’re able to help out hundreds of animals a year with this fund.”

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