A doggone good cause: Paws in the Park benefits no-kill shelter, spay/neuter clinic and land trust
By Noelle Edwards
Dogs ran amuck, played musical chairs and gobbled marshmallows for a cause on Saturday.
Paws in the Park kicked off at 9:30 on the lawn of Knox Middle School. The event raised money for the Land Trust for Central North Carolina, Faithful Friends’ fund to build a no-kill animal shelter in Rowan County, and a planned low-cost spay and neuter clinic.
A one-and-a-half-mile walk started at 10:30, and the rest of the morning and early afternoon was spent on Doggie Olympics: judging of best dressed and most talented dogs, a marshmallow toss, a musical sit, fastest dog and timed eating contests.
Scott Julian helped organize the Doggie Olympics with Lazy 5 Ranch Veterinary Services, and he also helped pull Paws in the Park together. He said Saturday’s event and a Port-a-Pit dinner Wednesday raised $5,000.
Stephanie Linn, the other coordinator for Paws in the Park, said about 100 people attended Saturday’s event, and about 75 dogs participated in the 9:30 a.m. walk.
Pretty good, given the dreary weather Saturday. Still, Julian said the planners were hoping for more like 200 participants.
Because of the number of volunteers who participate, Julian said, “there’s no way we can reschedule something like this.”
This is the third year for the Paws in the Park event and only the second for Doggie Olympics. Julian said the Olympics was his brainchild, modeled off an event N.C. State does to raise money for the community. He wanted a dog competition in Salisbury and thought the event would be a nice help in raising money for animal-related needs.
“Ours is very simplified,” he said. But he hopes to add more participants and more events in future years.
Organizers used the event to educate dog owners, too. One display on site was “Guido the Mosquito,” an inflatable mosquito about twice as tall as a human.
Linn said the giant mosquito helps people learn animals get heartworms when they are bitten by a mosquito carrying larvae. In fact, according to the American Heartworm Society, young heartworms can’t mature into adults without first passing through a mosquito.
Bob Parnell, Salisbury fire chief, came with his dalmatian, Sparky, who is deaf. He said he gives Sparky visual commands to get him to do things such as come inside.
Parnell announced the Fire Department got a donation and has purchased oxygen masks specifically designed for reviving dogs after a fire.
“We’re gonna do everything we can, first for you, then for your pets,” he said to the crowd.
Lora Owen, a volunteer with Faithful Friends, said, “The main reason we come out is the fun for my dogs.” Owen brought her cocker spaniels, Spencer and Madison, and they competed in the dog sit competition. Madison won a bronze medal in the event.
“It’s just a fun event,” Owen said. “All three causes this supports are good.”
Kathy Mateleska entered her dog, Buddy LaRue, into some of Saturday’s events.
“Oh, I’m into my dogs,” she said.
Sarah Sharum brought her 10-month-old Maltese, Oscar. Sharum said, “I’ve looked forward to doing this.”
She came to the event last year but didn’t have Oscar to compete with.
“I just had a really good time,” she said, “even with the weather.”
Christin Fundurburk, who handled publicity for the event, said, “Rain or shine, dog lovers come out.”