Mutt Strut will ‘make a difference’

Published 9:35 pm Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Suffolk Humane Society will hold its fourth annual Mutt Strut fundraiser today at Sleepy Hole Park from 1 to 5 p.m.

The money raised through the fundraiser — the goal is at least $60,000 — helps fund the organization’s programs, including humane education, adoptions, fostering and other goals.

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The event will be held at Sleepy Hole Park, 4700 Sleepy Hole Road. All pets must be kept on a leash. Proof of current vaccinations is required, and dogs must have current licenses in the city where they reside. Female pets in heat will not be permitted inside the festival. Owners must pick up after their pets; bags will be provided.

The entire community is encouraged to come out to Mutt Strut and help make a difference in the lives of animals.

“To make the biggest difference in the community, we need to make the biggest difference monetarily on Sunday,” said Kay Hurley, community outreach coordinator for the Suffolk Humane Society.

The success of the humane society is evident in the stories of the volunteers and the animals they have helped.

Jada is one of those animals. Animal Control officers found the 4-year-old boxer mix outside on a short leash in January, with a drastically lowered heart rate and body temperature. She had no food or water, was lying in her own waste and had numerous health problems from neglect and over-breeding.

Doctors at Bennett’s Creek Veterinary Care nursed her back to health after nearly euthanizing her. Ellisse Parker, a humane society volunteer, has been caring for Jada since her release from the hospital.

To bring attention to Jada’s need for a permanent home and the consequences of abusing and neglecting animals, Team Jada has been formed for the Mutt Strut.

“Jada is a happy story,” Hurley said. “She brings attention to the misery and suffering of a lot of dogs.”

The society also cares for cats up for adoption at the Harbour View and Chesapeake Square PetSmart stores. Proceeds from Mutt Strut help to pay for medical expenses, food and other supplies needed.

“We have a lot of medical expenses,” said Lee Murphy, who is director of fosters and adoptions with the Suffolk Humane Society. “We also need food and litter and bedding. I have a budget I have to stay within.”

In addition, volunteers in the foster program depend on donations to help them do their jobs, including getting medical care for their foster pets.

The foster parents take the animals to various events to socialize them and show off their adoptability. They also discover their strengths and weaknesses and work out any medical problems.

Volunteer Linda Vetter currently is fostering Charlie, an 11-year-old Pomeranian. Charlie was overweight, had heartworms and was suffering from spinal problems when he was discovered as a stray.

He’s now on medication for heartworms and maintains a healthy weight, though he will always have spinal problems. Vetter has learned that Charlie needs to be in a home without small children or a lot of steps because of his back problems.

The Mutt Strut can even help owners find adoptable animals from other organizations. Volunteer Michele Thames found Blu, a German shepherd, at the Mutt Strut last year. He was taken to the event by the Virginia German Shepherd Rescue.

More than 20 rescue organizations are lined up to visit Mutt Strut this year.

For more information on the event, visit

Mutt Strut schedule

1 p.m. — Welcome and Introductions

1:10-1:25 p.m. — Adoptable Dogs Strut Their Stuff

1:25-1:45 p.m. — Virginia Foxtrotters (Dancing with Dogs)

1:45-2:05 p.m. — Agility Demonstration

2:05-2:45 p.m. — Race the Wind Contest (large and small dog divisions)

2:45-3:10 p.m. — Police Dog Demonstration

3:10-3:15 p.m. — Blessing of the Animals

3:15-3:35 p.m. — Pledge Walk

3:35-3:45 p.m. — Frosty Paws Eating Contest

3:45-4:15 p.m. — The Flying Jacks

4:15-4:30 p.m. — Canine Costume Contest

4:40-4:50 p.m. — Agility Demonstration

4:50-5:00 p.m. — Announcements of Contest Winners, Silent Auction, and Fundraising Prizes

Events throughout the day include: Silent auction, free pet health screenings, children’s activities, Neuter Scooter, fire truck, and pet portraits