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Music for Mutts raises money for homeless pets

The Valley Animal Center held its 2nd annual Music for Mutts benefit to a crowd of more than 150 people.

The event, which took place at the Toca Madera Winery at 36140 Avenue 9 on Saturday evening, was a chance for patrons to listen to live music, and consume wine and barbecue.

The cost of admission was $30 for dinner with wine, and $20 for a meal without alcohol.

Valley Animal Center, a nonprofit, no-kill animal shelter that operates out of Fresno, has about 100 dogs and 400 cats in its care.

Valley Animal Center held this event in the same venue last year. This year, however, according to staff at Valley Animal Center, they were able to bring in a larger audience than they did in 2015.

“Toca Madera has been generous enough to donate their facility to our shelter for this event both years,” said Nina Tonnu, the Valley Animal Center’s community relations coordinator.

According to Tonnu, three different bands and artists performed at the event, and the benefit was catered by TOPS BBQ of Fresno.

“They’re actually owned by some of our long term supporters and volunteers, and this just one of the ways they wanted to continue to support the shelter,” Tonnu said.

“We’ve actually done quite a few charity events, so far. We were tallying things up recently, and we’ve actually raised over $25,000,” said Walt Whelan, the owner of the Toca Madera Winery. “One of the points that we had when we opened the winery, was, obviously we wanted to be successful, but we thought it would be kind of cool to get ourselves known as the winery with good causes.”

Toca Madera Winery also hosted Paint Night on June 30 for Jacob’s Warriors, a charity organization. The event raised $2,500 for Valley Children’s Hospital, with an additional $350 later donated by the winery.

Walt Whelan’s daughter, Isabel Whelan, also participated in the benefit. A student at UCLA who is studying communications and music, she sang at the event.

“We got really excited about this cause because we actually got our dog from a rescue, and she’s been the best dog ever,” she said. “So it’s really cool to have this cause that we can go to support here at our winery, and that I can perform at as well.”

In order to raise more money for their cause, the Valley Animal center will be holding a Wiggle Waggle at Woodword Park in October. They hope that the 5K race, in which pets are welcome, will bring in more awareness for the shelter.

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