ROCKINGHAM — One man’s junk is a poor dog’s treasure, thanks to an arrangement between Ingrid Marks and Sam’s Auction of Rockingham.
It all started when Marks contacted Sam Buck to ask if he would be willing to auction off items donated for the purpose of raising funds to pay for the medical care of animals “destined to die” at the Richmond County Animal Shelter due to health conditions the shelter cannot afford to treat.
Buck said “yes,” with the stipulation that all of the proceeds — including the auction house’s part — would go toward the cause.
“I started this auction because of the sadness that overwhelmed me when these animals needed help and no one was there,” Marks said. “At least, no one who could afford to do what needed to be done to get the animals rescue-ready.”
Marks said that, like the shelter, the rescues are financially unable to accept heartworm-positive dogs. Austin, a black Labrador retriever mix, and Gus, a hound dog — both rescued from the shelter recently — stood close by, wagging their tails.
“They can’t treat it because the cost is so expensive,” she said, leaning down to get Austin’s attention. “The county shelter will not pay any veterinary care at all, so if an animal there needs that and no one steps up, it dies. These two we just treated and they are lined up for rescue.”
Marks added that the $500 treatment for heartworm in a dog Austin’s size increases if antibiotics are needed — and they typically are. But to her, the cost of treating animals for a completely curable disease is not a consideration in whether to save those animals.
“It’s heart breaking for a dog to die over $500,” she said. “It breaks my heart. And I said, ‘Something’s got to change.’ Sam could get 20 percent of the money raised in these actions, but he’s donating that and we are getting 100 percent of the proceeds. All of it goes to these animals’ health care. The cost of food, transportation it takes me to get them back and forth, I eat that. This money is a hundred percent to save the animal.”
Buck’s wife, Gail, said she has known Marks for many years and has seen firsthand the passion behind her work on behalf of animals.
“Ingrid is really the one out there doing all of this,” she said. “She takes in strays and she’s always on the lookout for anything better for the animals, and she is constantly out there seeking donations. When we get to her table (at the auction) Sam will announce everything goes to them — and once they know that, the people tend to spend a little bit more than they normally would. They’ll say, ‘Keep the change,’ and give it to Ingrid.”
Marks said the success of the auctions depends on people donating their old, unwanted “stuff,” no matter how useless they may believe it to be.
“People would not believe it,” she said. “They have things in the garage or the closet and think it’s junk. But I can clean it up and put it up for auction and somebody will buy it. And every dollar goes to keeping these animals alive and getting them to rescues and on to adoptive homes. I just want people to know that their old junk becomes the money that saves these dogs and these cats. I want them to know that yes, the Humane Society does a lot, too. But no single agency alone is able to save all of these animals. That could change.”
Other groups such as the Humane Society of Richmond County and Richmond County Animal Advocates do all they can, Marks said, but when they run out of money this fund exists to help the “doomed ones” at the county shelter.
“Being affiliated with both groups, I see more than I want to sometimes and take on more foster pets than most,” she said. “But I can’t let them die. I see posts on Facebook screaming for help as I helplessly looked on. I mean, ‘Who could afford but so much?’ So I came up with the auction idea. They are now opening a thrift store on Highway 1 across from Food Lion and will also allow us space there. This, my friend, is how a business should step up and help.”
Marks said she often feels overwhelmed while out begging for donations, but that Buck encourages her to continue.
“We only want people to donate what they no longer use,” she said. “Lawn mowers, pots and pans, appliances, dishes, coffee pots, mixers, lamps, furniture and lawn furniture, old vacuums. They sell really well at the auction. We don’t want too many clothes. Some, but not a lot. My goal is to help the doomed at the shelter that would be euthanized without intervention to make them more appealing to a rescue. A fully vetted dog normally is snatched up by rescues.”
But Marks said she doesn’t intend to stop there, and that she believes with help from all of the people in the community her vision can become reality.
“I want this to grow into helping with spays and neuters, hurt or sick pets that the owners just can’t pay alone,” she said. “We will only ask that they pay it forward helping with future functions, or simply just foster or go walk a dog at the shelter. My vision is to let this auction fund what is needed, and there is so much. But it needs donations and help. When someone screams ‘Help!’ do I want to scream, ‘Didn’t I tell you one man’s junk saves lives?’ Clean out your closets, garages and outbuildings. We only want what you no longer need.”
Marks said she is grateful to the Bucks and everyone else who has helped make the fund possible.
Donations can be dropped off at Sam’s Auction at 730 East U.S. 74 in Rockingham, or contact Ingrid Marks at 910-318-7801 or her daughter Hanna Marks at 910-534-8044.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.