An orange and white domestic shorthair cat and her six kittens found at a Hopkinsville home were recently turned in to the Christian County Animal Shelter.

With no collar and no known owners, the stray cat family is now being fostered by a local animal lover until they can be adopted.

Situations like this are one of the reasons for the annual Spay-ghetti Dinner and Live Auction, according to shelter officials. Proceeds from the event directly benefit the shelter's "Get 'Em Done" spay and neuter program.

"We keep doing this because the money we raise goes above and beyond what the county budget authorizes us to use to get animals spayed and neutered," said Irene Grace, animal shelter director. "The money goes to get animals spayed or neutered either while they are here or when they get adopted."

The community can support this good "paws" next Saturday. The dinner will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Sept. 14 at the James E. Bruce Convention Center, 303 Conference Center Drive.

"It's the place to be because everyone loves animals and they want to help the animals and this is a great way they can do that," Grace said. "They'll get a salad, a drink, bread, the spaghetti and a dessert for $8. At the door (tickets) are $10. The (live) auction starts at 6 and we go until there's nothing left."

The live auction -- with volunteer auctioneer Sam Wright -- will be for larger items, which have been donated by the community. These items include a Weber grill, a

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Craftsman leaf blower, oil paintings donated by local artists, a hall tree, spay/neuter vouchers and a country ham.

Grace estimated nearly 150 items have been donated and said she appreciates all of the contributors.

"Thank you very much because we couldn't do this without them," she said.

Advance tickets for the Spay-ghetti Dinner and Live Auction are available at Skyline Animal Clinic, Oak Grove Animal Clinic, Mansfield Animal Hospital, Westuck Animal Hospital, Southern States Co-Op, The Pet Lodge, Furry Friends, You Dirty Dog, Elements of Self Defense, Toyota of Hopkinsville and the animal shelter.

Currently, the shelter has nearly 200 adoptable dogs, cats, puppies and kittens. Grace invites the community to visit the animal shelter to see the operation and hopefully adopt a pet. To adopt an animal, Grace said the process is simple.

"They come up here, find and animal they like, wait 15 minutes for paperwork and leave with the animal," she said, noting most animals have adoption fees.

When adopting, Grace recommends pet owners microchip their animals. The cost to microchip is $8.75 at the shelter.

"That's an option when people adopt from us, but we cannot microchip an animal that has not been adopted from us," she said.

Grace said animals who are lodged at the shelter arrive there in different ways.

"Sometimes animal control brings them in," she said. "We don't know who they are so we post them as strays -- by Kentucky law -- for five days. Then we put them up for adoption hopefully. We do our best."

Other animals are released by their owners to the shelter because of a move or other reasons.

"You have to be a resident of Christian, Todd, Trigg counties to bring animals here," Grace said. "We're a regional shelter."

The shelter recently accepted more than 40 dogs seized from a property in Trigg County. Many of them were adopted; however, some still wait for a new home.

"I've been here 21 years and I've probably seen six (situations) like that -- animals kept in terrible conditions," Grace said.

Grace said her current budget for spaying and neutering is $46,000 annually. Last year the Spay-ghetti event raised $18,000 to supplement the budget to help control the pet population. Grace hopes more money is raised next Saturday through ticket sales and sold auction items.

"Hopefully, the more (animals) we get spayed and neutered and make the public aware of the problem, it will help reduce the (over)population of dogs, cats, puppies and kittens," she said.

"The need (for more funds) is always there," Grace added. "It's a constant need."

Reach Michele Vowell at 270-887-3242 or mvowell@kentuckynewera.com.

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