By Neal Cardin
Monday, December 7, 2015 at 4:30 am (Updated: December 7, 4:30 am)
A beautiful fall day in December drew a large crowd Sunday to the Animal Refuge Center Inc. near Vine Grove for its annual Christmas party.
As people entered the house, Zeus, a large dog, stood just inside a sliding door more or less standing in the way to greet guests and receive attention. Several cats stood guard watching each person and at times would follow attendees or go off to hide or play with other cats.
Several different kinds of soups, dips, salads and desserts were available for guests to sample. As people tasted the homemade goodies, many talked about their pets, both the ones they sponsor at the refuge center, the ones they adopted from there or their other pets at home.
More than once a cellphone was pulled out and a crowd gathered around to look at the photos of a pet, many times bringing a “wow,” “awww,” or “how cute” from onlookers.
James and Liz Edgar were one couple showing photos to the Edwards.
“We adopted a cat from here and we were showing how well he has done,” James said. “We have another pet we adopted from Hardin County Animal Control that was about to be put down. They have adapted and become great together.”
He said they wanted to come to the party to show how the cat is doing, talk with friends and show support for the center.
Inge Edwards hurried across the room to meet and hug a guest attending Sunday’s event. Chris Smith, was carrying a framed photo of a long-haired chihuahua named Lily to show the Edwards. Smith said she and her husband adopted Lily, who is 11-years old, from the center.
“We knew she was in terrible shape, has bad legs and been neglected by her previous owners,” Smith said. “We love on her and helped with rehabilitation. We love her to death and now she is walking and running with our other dogs.”
Linda Trigg lives on Deckard School Road and her land adjoins Inge Edwards’ property. After meeting Edwards and becoming friends with her, she learned about the refuge center and now helps twice a week with the dogs.
“I help exercise them even though they have a nice size kennel we get them out and let them have some more freedom. I have chased a few down the hill,” Trigg said.
She said she is an animal lover and has a cat and dog as part of their family.
“I wish people would spay and neuter,” Trigg said. “I hate seeing an animal being put down. If we would control the animals, we would have less need for shelters such as this.”
A trio of sisters, Larissa Byrd, Vanessa and Rebecca Gibbs, visited with the cats in The Romper Room, in the basement area. The sisters donate regularly to the center.
“I have three adopted cats, all with FIV, that I take care of,” Byrd said. “They are special, special needs cats, but I give them the love and attention they need.”
President and Shelter Manager Penny Edwards said more than 75 people attended the party, which is held to showcase the Animal Refuge Center to the public. The party also is held to thank people for their donations, volunteering and to promote adoption and ownership.
Edwards and her mother, Inge, said the shelter held its first party in 1993 and before that sponsored an open house event in one of the barns used as kennels.
Since then, the center has grown and moved into a large house on the same property where 120 cats reside along with a couple of Canada geese, two pot-bellied pigs and about 10 dogs and four goats.
As guests were leaving, some were greeted by a cat sitting on the hood of their vehicle enjoying the late fall sun. The cat intently watched the humans to see if they would have to leave their newfound perch or could enjoy their prime watching site without having to move. A couple of the cats even wanted to be petted before having to get down and head back to the safety of the house.
Neal Cardin can be reached at or firstname.lastname@example.org.