Alaqua Animal Refuge hosts a virtual online show in honor of animals

As COVID-19 creates a new normal throughout the United States, a Florida animal shelter puts a new spin on fundraising to keep their doors open, operations alive, and save animals’ lives in the process.

Image by Cedric Clooth from Pixabay

Located in the panhandle of Florida, Alaqua Animal Refuge is a private, non-profit (501c3) animal shelter and sanctuary committed to serving the Southeast as the premier no-kill refuge providing protection, shelter, and care to animals in need; a full-service animal adoption center; and a peaceful, proactive animal welfare advocate. In fact, Alaqua has become the “go-to” organization to help animals, and grown to be a nationally, recognized leader in animal rescue, welfare, cruelty prevention, and advocacy across the country.

Alaqua not only rescues dogs and cats, but all domestic animals in need—including horses, farm animals, and birds. The animals come from mostly cruelty and neglect cases, but also from overloaded shelters in the Southeast. From purebreds to special needs, these animals have all found shelter, safety, and second chances Alaqua until they find a permanent home or sanctuary.

Alaqua operates solely on funds that are raised through private donations, fundraising, and grants. These endeavors provide crucial funding for their entire yearly operation and most of them have come to a complete halt with the country’s shutdown from the spread of the coronavirus. Two major fundraisers were canceled this past Spring which was a devastating blow to Alaqua’s bottom-line to be able to meet the needs of animals in their care and keep the Refuge functional—including its day-to-operations and provision of services and programs to continue its mission.

“As animal shelters and veterinary offices are operating on limited intake, the need for our services are even greater today than they were prior to the shutdown. It is honestly unbelievable the need we are seeing from our surrounding communities and state,” said Alaqua Founder Laurie Hood. “Cruelty and abuse cases are at an all-time high and we had to figure out a way to help. It’s just what we do.”

To supplement the loss of funds from fundraising events and to provide a bridge gap until things could get back to semi-normal state, Alaqua created “Rescue Me,” a very unique type of virtual event that includes an Online Live Webcast that will run simultaneously with an Online Auction, containing curated items donated before Alaqua’s events were canceled. The event also salutes Alaqua’s supporters, sponsors, volunteers, and friends.

The Online Live Webcast is a truly unique, live entertainment show and will premiere on Saturday, May 16 at 5 pm CST. It is jam-packed full of special guest appearances including:

  • Chef Emeril Lagasse and his wife Alden, of AldenAlli wine, cooking live in their home kitchen
  • Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line and his wife Brittney, a 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”
  • Dr. 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

The show is also filled with supporters and incredible stories of animal rescues from the Refuge with appearances by favorite Alaqua alums and friends. It is a truly not-to-miss-event, and can be viewed via a computer, tablet, or mobile phone.

The Online Auction portion of the Rescue Me event begins Thursday, May 14 at 2 pm through May 17 at 6 pm. Upon registration, guests will be able preview over 70 items up for bidding, 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.

“I can’t believe how fast this show came together. 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,” said Hood. “I’m so excited, but at a loss for words to express my gratitude. To the producers and everyone involved…I just feel blessed.”

Registration for both events is now open, and is free at

Registration is required, whether you are able to bid or donate. Guests will be sent a special link to enter the Online Live Show closer to its “showtime” on May 16.


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

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