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Columbia County Observer

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Super Columbia Cnty Success on Saturday Night Truck Stop 75 Sponsored Humane Society Benefit

There was barely an empty seat at the Lake City Humane Society benefit.

• More Lake City Humane Society – Animal Control stories are here.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Saturday night's Humane Society Benefit brought folks together from the 4 corners of Columbia County, as well as foreign lands, to support the Lake City Humane Society's goal to build the James Montgomery Animal Wellness Center. By every measure, the event was a tremendous success.

(Left to right) Alex Isometdino, Todd Sampson, Willie Hoffer, and Tom Barritt, the Executive Director of the Humane Society.

Willie Hoffer and Alex Isometdino, partners in Truck Stop 75, located just south of I-75 in Ellisville, were the primary sponsors of the event, providing the dining areas (indoor and outdoor), exhibit area, and food.

The event was refreshing as folks left the usual Columbia County politics behind and just enjoyed the evening's entertainment and festivities.

Lake City Mayor Steve Witt and County 5 Chairman Ronald Williams

Legendary Columbia County Commissioner Ronald Williams, as expected, gave a brief history of animal control in the County and seems to be onboard with the mission of the Humane Society to control the County feral cat population and become a no-kill animal shelter.

Todd Sampson and Laura Hunter with a rendering of the James Montgomery Animal Wellness Center.

To help control the feral cat population the Humane Society can lend cat traps to County residents: a $75 refundable deposit is required. The deposit is returned when the trap is returned.

For cats that can't be returned to their original location, the Animal Shelter releases those cats into its private cat colony.

The shelter adopts dogs and cats and has a sliding scale of adoption rates, the lowest being for dogs over 6 years old. These animals can be adopted for the bargain price of only $60 and come neutered and vaccinated.

The fees for adopting cats are $60 for kittens and $50 for cats.

The Hunters: Laura & Glenn

Glenn and Laura Hunter listen to the live music.

Longtime Humane Society Board member Laura Hunter was thrilled at the turnout. Every day your reporter spoke with her she was out promoting the event and selling tickets. Speaking about the event as she looked at the turnout, Ms. Hunter said, "This is wonderful."

Laura Hunter's high school sweetheart and husband, County Economic Development Director Glenn Hunter, was working behind the scenes to make this event a reality. His relationship with the folks at Truck Stop 75 and his lifelong community involvement helped smooth the way to the success of the event.

Gilda Parker brought her dog Macgregor along to the event.

Todd Sampson

Todd Sampson has been at the helm, Chairman of the Board, of the Humane Society for a few years and has navigated the organization through some rough patches. His involvement with the Humane Society and other Countywide organizations, and the fact that he has 5 daughters has no doubt contributed to his low key manner of leadership style that gets things done.

Lake City's popular mayor Steve Witt, who has been under some pressure lately as the City creaks its way forward into modern times, told your reporter, "This is really great to see all these people coming together for this really good cause."

Before the live auction, two of the participants were taking a nap.

And What About the Dogs?
Yes Sir: There was some drama and a happy ending

Laura Hunter and the Humane Society's Ashley Crane watch the auction with one of the stars of the auction.

One of the highlights of the event was the live auction for the kitten and the two puppies.

While the auction for the Border collie, it was so cute, and the kitten, which was also so cute, were uneventful, the auction for the Labrador puppy turned into a really good feel good story.

The bidding got off to a slow start and then heated up with folks from both ends of the room bidding. The place so packed they couldn't see each other.

Local Attorney Sara Carter won the Lab, but the story wasn't over. Photo (left to right): Travis Lanaux, Sara Carter, Jamie Cummings, Labrador, Leroy Cummings.

When the price reached $200, Sara Carter, a local attorney, was the winner.

Ms. Carter's husband, veterinarian Travis Lanaux, and Ms. Carter had a lot of animals at home – a lot.

When they found out that the couple that was bidding on the Lab really wanted the dog, they analyzed their situation and decided they really didn't need another pet.

Sara Carter looks on as a grateful Jamie Cummings gives Travis Lanaux a big hug of gratitude for her new puppy.



The solution: they gave the puppy to Leroy and Jamie Cummings, the other bidders, who were thrilled.




The other puppy, the little Border collie, was bought by Alex Isometdino and family.

Who knew that Alex and his wife Jamma would travel across continents and then up from Miami to Columbia County to find the perfect fifth member of their family for the prefect family portrait.

The Isometdinos: Alex, Jamma, Lola (15), Una (3 months), Yasmina (9).


The Humane Society Benefit was a good evening for Columbia County – And America and for the generosity of its citizens, and non citizens alike.

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