That's a pricey meatball

By winning the first-ever Charles Smith Wines Jet City meatball competition in February — besting five other top Seattle chefs — Matt Fortner of Tom Douglas Restaurants received $5,000 to donate to the charity of his choice.

As someone who works with a line cook that volunteers at the Seattle Animal Shelter (2061 15th Ave. W.), it didn’t take long for Fortner to decide where the money would go.

“I see the pictures of the animals,” Fortner said. “Your heart breaks for them.”

On Thursday, Fortner officially presented the donation to the shelter to benefit its’ “Help the Animals Fund,” in a ceremony that also included Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, and Seattle Animal Shelter Director Don Jordan.

“What an incredible thing,” Murray said of the novelty of the contest. “Food — as in meatballs — wine, and pets. One of my favorite combinations.”

But the winemaker that sponsored the contest had a surprise of his own to reveal during the check presentation.

“We said there would be $5,000 donated in the name of Chef Fortner,” Smith said. “What we didn’t say is there would also be an additional $5,000 in the name of Charles Smith Wines to double the donation.”

Smith quickly updated the oversized check with a permanent marker to reflect the five-figure gift.

“I typically don’t use the words ‘wine’ and ‘pets’ in the same sentence, but it’s very apropos,” Smith said, “because Seattle Animal Shelter and Charles Smith Wines are about building community.”

Meanwhile, Jordan emphasized the importance of not only this donation, but outside contributions in general for the shelter.

“The Seattle Animal Shelter relies so heavily on contributions such as this to perform the life saving work that we do each and every day,” Jordan said, “and donations such as this help us achieve a save rate of over 90 percent. We’re committed to saving the lives of every homeless animal in Seattle.”

Each year, the shelter takes in approximately 6,000 stray animals, and while it does not consider itself to be a “no kill” shelter, it puts up all adoptable animals regardless of breed or feral nature (the exceptions are animals determined to pose a health or safety risk to humans or other pets, or those unable to be assisted by reasonable veterinary care). The shelter also puts no time or space limits for those in its care to be adopted.

The “Help the Animals Fund” was created in 1977, and those donations are used specifically to promote animal welfare, primarily through the rehabilitation of animals that were subject to cruelty and neglect before entering the shelter’s care. Donations to the fund also support the shelter’s foster and volunteer programs, pay for veterinary care for animals at the shelter, and go toward educational outreach to prevent further instances of homeless, unwanted, or abused animals. In 2015, the fund paid for more than $140,000 worth of veterinary bills.

Murray, who called the shelter one of his favorite places to visit as mayor, also had praise for the work being done at Interbay facility every day.

“Because of this shelter, we are able to give loving care to pets who don’t have homes, either here or in the incredible foster program where so many people foster animals until they get a permanent home,” he said.


For more information on the Seattle Animal Shelter, call (206) 386-7387, or visit

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