Visit and to learn more, donate, or get involved. | Photo by Dawn Chapman Whitty


Visit and to learn more, donate, or get involved. | Photo by Dawn Chapman Whitty

Alaqua Animal Refuge Announces Rescue Me, an Exclusive Online Virtual Fund-Raiser

Categories: Fundraiser, Local, News,
May 12, 2020,

Alaqua Animal Refuge announced today that it will host its new virtual fund-raising event, Rescue Me, on Saturday, May 16 at 5:00 p.m. (CST) with special celebrity guest appearances and video surprises. 

Working with some of the top production teams in the country, Alaqua has put together a truly unique online experience full of special guests including: favorite Alaqua alums and friends; a famous chef and his family cooking live in their home kitchen; a country superstar and his fashion designer wife; a Sonoma County vintner; a top TV veterinarian; the most talked-about reality TV personality today; and many more! The show will also be filled with supporters and incredible stories of animal rescues from the refuge. It is truly a not-to-miss event!

Alaqua’s founder, Laurie Hood, shares a few words on the event here:

Alaqua, Alaqua Animal Refuge, Alaqua Rescue Me, Animal Refuge, Animal Welfare, Laurie Hood, Rescue Me

Alaqua Animal Refuge “Rescue Me” May 16 Webcast GUests Include:

  • Chef Emeril Lagasse and his wife Alden Lagasse of AldenAlli wine, cooking live in their home kitchen
  • Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line and his wife Brittney Kelley, CEO and fashion designer for their Tribe Kelley boutiques
  • Kenan Thompson, an actor and comedian, and the longest-tenured cast member in Saturday Night Live’s history
  • Eric Lindell, an American singer songwriter described by USA Today as “pumping soul into funk, blues an roots-rock”
  • Will, featured on Love and Vets, a Nat Geo WILD series on his vet practice in Atlanta
  • Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action and former CEO of The Humane Society of the United States
  • John O’Hurley, an actor, author, game show host, and TV personality known for his role as J. Peterman on the NBC sitcom Seinfeld and host of NBC’s National Dog Show
  • Billy Dawson, Nashville Industry Awards “Artist of the Year”
  • Cathy Bissell, founder of the Bissell Pet Foundation
  • Kate McFall, the Florida Director for The Humane Society of the United States
  • Jon Nite, a CMA and ACM award winning singer/songwriter who has written top ten hits for Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney, Dierks Bentley
  • Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue and the most talked about reality TV personality today
  • And many more surprises!

Producers that worked on the TV documentary series featuring Alaqua jumped on board to volunteer their time to produce this unique webcast and online show. In an effort to salute Alaqua’s supporters, sponsors, volunteers, and friends, Rescue Me is a very different kind of live entertainment show that can viewed from your computer, tablet, or mobile phone. All guests need to do is to connect, sit back, relax (maybe grab a cocktail, glass of wine, cup of tea, or some milk and cookies), and enjoy the show.

“I can’t believe how fast this show came together,” says Hood, “and I’m so thankful for all the incredible—and I mean awesome—guests that are joining us, from our local friends to national supporters that believe in what we do. I’m so excited, but at a loss for words to express my gratitude to the producers and everyone involved…I just feel blessed.”

Simultaneously, guests can peruse and participate in a robust online auction, donate to the cause, or simply enjoy the fun while socially connecting at a distance. Guests are also encouraged to participate in a special donation segment at the end of the online show called Gift from the Heart, which will be hosted by Mike Haney, an Alaqua board member and executive director for the Sonoma County Vintners group in California.

Registration is free and is now open for both events at

Registration is required, whether you are able to bid or donate or you just want to enjoy the show. Auction items are preview-only until bidding opens on May 14. Guests will be sent a special link to enter the Online Live Show closer to its “showtime” on May 16.

The online auction portion of Rescue Me begins Thursday, May 14 at 2:00 p.m. and runs through Sunday, May 17 at 6:00 p.m. (CST). The auction includes over 70 fabulous items to bid on including original artwork, travel / trips, restaurant gift cards, art classes, golf, beauty packages, exquisite jewelry, wine dinners, event tickets, shopping sprees, and special bottles of wine. The auction is packed with goodies for everyone!

Since the world changed, Alaqua has found itself at a crossroads like many other nonprofits in our country. For Alaqua, it has meant refocusing efforts on how to keep growing and thriving on a day-to-day basis. 

“As animal shelters and veterinary offices are operating on limited intake, the need for our services is even greater today than prior to the shutdown,” says Alaqua founder Laurie Hood. “Cruelty and abuse cases are at an all-time high, and we had to figure out a way to help these animals in need.” 

The Rescue Me event was created to supplement the loss of two signature fund-raisers that Alaqua was in the midst of planning and executing this past spring—both of which were canceled due to the need for social distancing. These annual events were a devastating blow to Alaqua’s bottom-line as they provided a significant portion of the critical funding to be able to meet the needs of animals in the refuge’s care and keep the facility functional, including its day-to-day operations and provision of services and programs to continue its mission. 

Alaqua, Alaqua Animal Refuge, Alaqua Rescue Me, Animal Refuge, Animal Welfare, Laurie Hood, Rescue Me

As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Alaqua operates solely on funds that are raised through private donations and fund-raising, which is a continual effort with a focus on special events, memberships, planned giving, and grants. Together, these endeavors provide crucial funding for the entire yearly operation and most of them have come to a complete halt.

For more information on Rescue Me, and to keep up with the latest updates, visit the Facebook event at:

VIE is very excited to be a media sponsor for this inaugural online fund-raising event!

About Alaqua Animal Refuge

Alaqua Animal Refuge is a no-kill animal shelter and sanctuary, located in the panhandle of Florida. As the Southeast’s premier no-kill 501(c)3 refuge and sanctuary, Alaqua believes that every abused, neglected and homeless animal deserves a second chance. Committed to providing protection, shelter and care to animals in need, this private, non-profit Refuge also offers a full-service adoption center, educational outreach, and community programs that extend far beyond their geographic location. Since its inception in 2007, Alaqua has become a recognized leader in animal rescue, welfare, cruelty prevention, and advocacy. Alaqua is currently in the midst of a relocation and expansion capital campaign to build a one-of-a-kind facility—the first in the United States—on 100 donated acres. The new facility and sanctuary will allow Alaqua to continue all of the important work that is done now, as well as be an educational and training center to empower others to help animals and recreate the model worldwide. To learn more, visit

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