In its second year, the Paws & Claws Go To the Circus fundraiser for the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society raised a record $174,599, according to organizers.

Levity Aerial Arts, an aerial acrobatics troupe from San Luis Obispo, was joined by Santa Barbara contortionist Lila Woodard from Le PeTiT CiRqUe, center stage during the intimate evening on May 18, which benefited the only animal shelter in North Santa Barbara County that saves the lives of homeless dogs and cats by “rescuing from the rescues.”

Also part of the evening were hors d’oeuvres from Field to Table, specialty drinks from Tito’s Handmade Vodka, wine from Presqu’ile Winery and lots of carnival treats. A special circus-themed photo booth, contact juggling, and face painting rounded out the Circus Midway.

“We were so excited to have Levity Aerial Arts return to perform at Santa Maria Valley Humane Society for our Paws & Claws Go to the Circus,” said Sean Hawkins, executive director for the organization. “We enlisted support from so many community partners for this very special event that raised needed funds to save more animal lives.”

Hometown Heroes Towbe’s Villa del Sol, Santa Maria Times, Honda of Santa Maria, Community Bank of Santa Maria, Curation Foods, and Jean Morton Real Estate were also sponsors along with national underwriting partners Purina and Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

“Our most important annual fundraising event is held at the animal shelter so the community can see first-hand the amazing programs that save the lives of homeless animals every day,” said Hawkins. “We are proud of our Open Paw manners and skills training for shelter pets and our veterinary medical department and we want to create and opportunity to show our supporters their impact first-hand.”

Celebrity Auctioneer Jim Glines, who is also chairman of the board for Community Bank of Santa Maria, headed the auction committee that included a Santa Maria-style cake auction to kick off the event. Also appearing under the Big Top was USDA Detector Dog Doomis demonstrating his scent detection capabilities with his handler Christine Tyler and K-9 Krypto, a 14-month old, high-energy, black Labrador who just joined the Sheriff’s Department as a narcotics detection dog with his handler Custody Deputy Ur.

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