Elizabeth Sperry and Faith Ann Barnes held their new event, PAWSitively United, on Friday October 27 in support of the shelter, and its proposed new building. The event featured animal themed artwork from local artists, raffles and live artwork demonstrations.

It is estimated that in the United States alone that 78 million dogs and 85.8 million cats belong to homes (ASPCA.org). What about those that are not lucky enough to have their fur-ever homes?

The Rolla Animal Shelter, with an annual 2,000 processed critters, has an adoption rate of 95%. To maintain these statistics funding and donations are crucial, and that is exactly what two Rolla women are trying to promote.

Elizabeth Sperry and Faith Ann Barnes held their new event, PAWSitively United, on Friday October 27 in support of the shelter, and its proposed new building. The event featured animal themed artwork from local artists, raffles and live artwork demonstrations.

When asked why they orchestrated an event such as this, Sperry said,“[To show] that we can be united in a positive cause.” “That’s why the name of the event is PAWSitively United, because we wanted to show everyone can work together. Everyone should be working for the betterment of their community always.”

The event, held at PC Tech in downtown Rolla, had walls lined with photographs and paintings done by local artists that were for sale, all of which had proceeds going directly to the animal shelter. Beautifully detailed photographs from Ashley McPherson showcased animals from the St.Louis zoo, and canvas art by Visherryl Morgan showed vivid colors with mixed media portraying scenes and animals. A live demonstration also took place by a local student, Madison Hogan, who showed how to make felt animals, a popular craft that takes felt wool and creates intricate animal figures using only needles and skilled hands.

Barnes and Sperry are both very active members in their community and speaking with both of them, you can hear the interesting story of their partnership.
“One of the things that is unique about Faith and I, is we are both running for (local) office on opposite sides of the ticket,” Sperry said. “We really wanted to show the community that both sides of the ticket can work together for the greater good.”

Sperry and Barnes have done volunteer work in the past, so they aren’t immune to rolling up their sleeves to dive into a new project. For the past decade, Barnes and a group of volunteers have provided food for children in need at our area schools through the Friday Backpack Program. Sperry volunteers her time to various organizations as well, implementing the new Rolla Junior High Home and School Partnership. Working together on PAWSitively United is something that they both view as needed.
“We decided we wanted to do something together for the community,” Sperry said. “We talked about a few different ideas and we thought that raising some money for the new animal shelter to be built and getting some supplies donated to the current animal shelter would be a really good thing because we both really love our animals. I’m really excited for the new animal shelter to get built.”

Still in the planning phases, the new shelter is in need of monetary pushes to make it a reality. The proposed shelter takes influence from highly successful shelters in larger cities that give pets a more comfortable and healthy place to stay while they wait for adoption.
“We wanted to do something that would impact the community directly and immediately, and this really will.” Sperry said. “They always need supplies at the shelter. I was in just the other day and they put up plastic and [were] talking about how they were doing their best to weatherize for the winter. They do everything they can to keep their animals safe from exposure, but our shelter isn’t set-up to maintain that.”

Barnes and Sperry exude enthusiasm that can be infectious. “It’s an exciting time in Rolla right now,” Sperry said. “I’ve noticed so many groups right now really trying to help, and it’s amazing! We’ve got The Mission, the backpack program, the shelter and the new dog park fundraiser. All of these things just elevate our community. All of the help we can give, whether it’s our human population or pet population is going to make our community even better.”