The Round Top community showed up in force at the Big Red Barn (aka The Original Round Top Antiques Fair building) for the Gardenia E. Janssen Animal Shelter’s eighth annual Deep In The Paws of Texas fundraiser. It was all to support a much-needed renovation and expansion of the beloved rescue center.

“We are keeping animals far longer than in the history of our shelter,” says Gardenia E. Janssen Animal Shelter executive director Teresa Brown, who notes that the facility is redefining its mission as an animal welfare organization, as opposed to simply a shelter. 

Gardenia E. Janssen Animal Shelter takes in an average 1,400 to 1,500 dog and cats each year and has had an impressive 97 percent live release rate each year since 2020. It’s on track to do the same in 2023.

“To that end, we are designing a renovation of our existing structure and an expansion,” Brown says. “With this effort we are introducing a capital campaign and a lifetime recognition with a naming sponsorship opportunity.”

The estimated $400,000 rescue center upgrade will include isolation rooms for both dogs and cats, and a more efficient design in the cattery including a “catio” and “kitio” for feline guests. The plan also incorporates a meet and greet area for cats and dogs to interact with potential adopters. The canine play yard space will also be expanded with the addition of new fencing and an HVAC system will be added to the dog kennels. 

Gala funds will also go toward the facility’s daily expenses. The shelter cares for an average of 64 felines and 37 canines in house each day. At last count, a total of 91 cats and 65 dogs were in its care, including foster animals.

The GJAS facility is currently unable to care for and re-home all of the animals its receives, so it works with rescue organizations all over the country to ensure that animals entrusted to its care get the very best medical care and opportunities for adoption. Currently, there are GJAS animals located in 37 states and Canada. 

With the goal of saving these furry friends in mind, local business owners and supporters filled the Big Red Barn with treasures for auction. A guitar signed by Lyle Lovett and a three-night stay at Moon River Ranch in Satin were among the spoils. Generous donors Frank Hillbolt, Kim and Richard Rolland, Armando and Cinda Palacios, Sandy Reed and Raise Away all made exceptional contributions to the auction. 

Other top donors included a number of Round Top businesses and business owners. Farmers Lumber and Round Top Mercantile, Paul Michael, The Lone Star Farm, Leslie Kristen, Cotton Seed Trading Company, Humble Donkey Studio, Sapana, Susan Horne, Round Top Mercantile, Wimberly Inc, Mallory et Cie, Tré for the Gathering, The Cotton Pearl Motel, Greg Fourticq and John Cone, Round Top Real Estate, The Layne Family, Distinguished Transport, The Vintage Market, The Stone Cellar, Mary Lou Marks, Beth Weishuhn and Andy Johnson, Prost, Suzanne Maida, Katy Bader, Richard Schmidt, Melissa Ellis and the evening’s gracious emcee Marla Hurley all contributed to the cause. 

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of a special honor for generosity and support of GJAS which had been awarded to the late Lee Ellis, who passed away in March. Ellis’ wife Melissa, along with Elvira (Lee’s black and white spaniel and constant companion), accepted the award on his behalf. 

The gala was organized by chairs Ellen Hart and Cinda Palacios, with invaluable support from Lisa Slinkard and Jan Hughes. The gala team brought in local restaurant favorites Mandito’s, Guacamole, Round Top Brewing and Lulu’s to cater the event. Free flowing cocktails and pop hits played by The Grooves lured the crowd onto the dance floor to celebrate the successful evening. Attendees were spotted excitedly collecting their auction treasures before departing for the night. 

For more information about sponsorship opportunities, you can contact Gardenia E. Janssen Animal Shelter executive director Teresa Brown at (979) 966-0021. For more information, or to donate, foster, or adopt, visit the shelter’s website, or email [email protected].