A big crowd shows its support for pooches

Published 10:58 pm Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sunday was a perfect day for a walk — or “walkies,” if you and your pooch are so inclined — and 3,000 to 4,000 people and their favorite canine companions headed to Sleepy Hole Park to take advantage of the opportunity during the Suffolk Humane Society’s second annual Mutt Strut.

The event is the society’s largest fundraiser of the year. This year, participants raised more than $53,000, with more money expected from a variety of sources, according to organizers. Sadly, donations were down from the previous year, but that’s probably to be expected, considering that most folks are tightening their belts in the face of the sagging economy.

Even Suffolk Humane officials concede that raising money — though vital to the group’s mission of assisting companion animals in the city of Suffolk — isn’t necessarily the only important component of the annual event. Perhaps as important were the opportunities the organization had to promote the health and general well-being of dogs and cats in the area.

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To that end, participants had the chance while on site to talk to veterinarians, have their animals spayed or neutered, look into services ranging from dog-sitting to animal “readings” and even find a new four-legged friend from one of the shelters and animal rescue groups that were on hand. In fact, seven of the 12 dogs that Suffolk Animal Control brought along for adoption found new families to take them home during the event.

Even with donations down this year, the response to the event was a bit overwhelming for its organizers. “I think it’s wonderful that Suffolk and our community are supporting an event like this,” said Kay Hurley, communications director for the Suffolk Humane Society.

Hurley is correct in her assessment. The way a society chooses to treat its animals is a good indication of the value it places on life and, by extension, the way that it will treat the most helpless of its human citizens. The fact that a few thousand folks were willing to turn out in support of homeless and mistreated dogs and cats speaks well of the community. And in these times of financial and social upheaval, it’s a refreshing sign of compassion.