A ‘Humane’ cause: Wine, Wags & Whiskers annual event benefits shelter animals


The Humane Society for Hamilton County is looking to raise $200,000 this year through its 15th annual Wine, Wags & Whiskers event that will focus on sharing stories of animals available for adoption.

This year’s event is set from 6 to 9 p.m. June 16 at the Embassy Suites Noblesville, 13700 Conference Center Dr., Noblesville, and serves as one of the organization’s three major annual fundraisers, said Lily Pesavento, community engagement manager for HSHC.

“We’re very excited because we have so many animals that are in need right now, and so this is an opportunity for us to celebrate the support of our community, celebrate the work we’ve done and celebrate our animals,” Pesavento said. “And at the same time, get the support from our community to show them, ‘This is where donations go.’”

All money raised from the event goes directly back into costs associated with the organization, which operates as a nonprofit, according to Pesavento. Last year’s fundraiser brought in more than $142,000.

Pesavento said the funding from Wine, Wags & Whiskers is particularly important as HSHC only receives approximately 20 percent of its funding from Hamilton County. That funding only covers the first seven days of a stray animal’s hold at the shelter and does not cover other expenses, such as medical care.

Wine, Wags & Whiskers will feature wine and beer tastings, heavy hors d’oeuvres, raffles and food. Attire is business casual and serves as a good opportunity for HSHC to talk about the work that it does in Hamilton County, Pesavento said.

Lily Pesavento, community engagement manager for the Humane Society for Hamilton County, gives Aemend,
a husky available for adoption, a treat June
2 at the shelter. (Photos by Adam Seif)

The HSHC, which takes in all strays and animals that are surrendered, is an open-admission, no-kill facility and has a focus on finding animals loving homes, according to Pesavento, who has been with the organization since December 2022. Wine, Wags & Whiskers is particularly important since HSHC depends on funding from the public due to its nonprofit status, she added.

“We have seen such an increase in animal surrenders, especially strays, and we have run out of space,” Pesavento said. “It’s imperative that we educate the community and move these dogs out.”

The organization also has many cats for adoptions as well and is bracing for an increase in cats and kittens through October, Pesavento said.

Rebecca Stevens, president and CEO of the HSHC, stressed that fundraisers such as Wine, Wags & Whiskers are especially important as it continues its work. The HSHC also holds another fundraiser, Woofstock, that will be Aug. 12 at Four Day Ray Brewing in Fishers that will feature a Survivor 5K and dog walk.

The HSHC’s largest fundraiser, Tinsels & Tails Petacular, is scheduled for Nov. 16 at the 502 East Event Centre in Carmel. Stevens said the organization has a mission of helping every animal that comes into the shelter and noted that fundraisers such as Wine, Wags & Whiskers go a long way in benefitting the HSHC.

“(We want to) give every single animal the chance to live and be loved,” Stevens said. “It’s expensive to do what we do, and events like this are our bread and butter.”

Stevens said Wine, Wags & Whiskers is a good way for attendees to come together and have fun while supporting the HSHC and knowing that every penny goes back into the organization.

‘We try to create a great time and have fun and, of course, we want to set a (fundraising) record,” she said.

Lobby of the Humane Society for Hamilton County in Fishers.

If You Go

What: Wine, Wags & Whiskers fundraiser

When: 6 to 9 p.m. June 16

Where: Embassy Suites Noblesville, 13700 Conference Center Dr., Noblesville

Cost: $95 per person (must be 21 or older)

More information: hamiltonhumane.com/programs/events/wine-wags-whiskers