By Jeanne Sager
WHITE LAKE March 12, 2004 Marianne Lamantia finally found a fitting remembrance for her mother.
Monday night, the owner of Busters BBQ played host to one of the biggest fundraisers the Sullivan County SPCA has ever seen a dinner that brought in more than $4,000.
More than 100 people crowded into the White Lake restaurant to fill up on ribs and pulled pork barbecue, place bids on dozens of prizes in a silent auction and show their support for the countys only public shelter.
The event was all Lamantias idea. After her mother, Loretta Holderer, passed away in November, Lamantia didnt know where to turn.
Holderer had three dogs, and it was her dying wish that the animals continue to live out their lives together.
Lamantia, who at the time still had her own Rottweiler, Buster, at home, couldnt take on three more animals.
So she called the SPCA.
They put the three dogs on the Internet and found one home that opened its doors to all three pups.
And a month later, when Buster passed away, Lamantia again turned to the SPCA.
There she found another Rottweiler, a rambunctious pup she brought home and named Roxy.
She couldnt replace Buster, but she could give another helpless creature a home.
Mondays dinner was Lamantias thank you. It was her way to remember her mom and her love of her dogs.
Im a dog lover, Im an animal lover, Lamantia explained.
The SPCA is a great organization, she added, and the restaurant was one thing she knew she could offer to help them out.
Im hoping to get them out of debt.
So Lamantia opened up shop. She donated the food, the use of the building essentially everything. She even talked her son, Frank, into giving up his day off and cooking through the night.
All she asked was that SPCA people get involved and throw a party.
That party raised $4,000.
And the SPCA can use every penny.
Only 10 percent of the SPCA budget comes from the county. The rest money that pays not just for dog food and vet visits but for the heat and electric at the shelter comes from donations.
Weve had a long, hard winter, said volunteer Ron Litchman. Weve rescued hundreds, and the cost of that is substantial.
He estimates that with payroll and every other bill that comes in, more than $10,000 is spent by the SPCA each month.
Of that, 75 percent is spent directly on the animals and their care.
Right now there are more than 100 dogs and cats at the shelter. More arrive every week.
The SPCA is a dropoff point for four town animal control units, and its also the center of animal cruelty investigations for the county.
In addition to the dogs and cats, there are four horses at the shelter right now.
And the shelter needs help. They need money. They need volunteers.
I hope that we can awaken new interest in the SPCA tonight, said Katharina Litchman, Rons wife and another SPCA volunteer.
The owner of seven cats wants to see more people focus on the welfare of animals in Sullivan County.
That was the attitude of most folks who showed up to have dinner or just drop off a donation at Busters Monday night.
Milton Richter of Monticello has two dogs, and hes made a point to visit the SPCA once in a while to bring newspapers or other donations.
I think they have a hard time, he said. No one wants to spend money on the animals.
Its a shame the way people treat animals, he continued.
The dinner also attracted some brand new SPCA volunteers, folks like Terri Quinn who moved to the Town of Bethel full-time a few months ago and joined the SPCA in January.
Everything Litchman needed, Quinn was there for. She even volunteered to manage ticket sales at the door on Monday evening.
Her reason for getting involved and taking on a major job when she was brand new to the organization?
The same as everyone else in the room.
I love animals, Quinn said.