Mutt Strut a howling success

Published 10:57 pm Monday, September 19, 2011

Mutt Strut: Participants in the pledge walk at Mutt Strut set off on the course around Sleepy Hole Park on Sunday. Despite the rain, more than 3,000 people came to the fundraiser.

Despite gray skies and intermittent rain, the Suffolk Humane Society’s annual Mutt Strut fundraiser was a success on Sunday by all measures.

More than 3,000 people showed up with their pups to support the organization. Though it drizzled throughout the event, the heavy rain held off until about 5 p.m., when only a few visitors and volunteers remained.

A turtle solicits donations for VIIPER, a reptile rescue group. About 20 rescue groups (though mostly for dogs) were at the event.

“As it was drizzling rain, I was just amazed to look out and see so many people and dogs that were there,” said Kay Hurley, director of community outreach for the Suffolk Humane Society. “We were a bit concerned about the weather, but you have to go on with the show.”

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Hurley did not yet know the total amount raised, but said during the event organizers were expecting about $50,000.

The event included a pledge walk, canine costume contest, demonstrations by the Suffolk Police Department’s K-9 unit, doggie shows by the Flying Jacks and Virginia Foxtrotters, a silent auction and adoptable animals on display by the Suffolk Humane Society and a number of rescue groups.

“We’ve had one dog and one puppy adopted,” said Linda Vetter, in-kind donations coordinator for the Suffolk Humane Society. She also serves as a foster parent for homeless animals, currently including an 11-year-old Pomeranian named Charlie.

Vetter said she talked to several families throughout the day that were interested in adopting Charlie, but she wound up with only one good lead.

“They like him, but they either have too many steps or they live in an apartment,” she said.

Among the adoptable animals was a litter of Labrador retrievers and a variety of cats and kittens.

“The shelter is packed with cats and kittens,” Vetter said. “We need people to get down to Suffolk Animal Control and adopt some cats and kittens.”

The costume contest also was a big hit with visitors. Pooches showed up dressed as angels, prisoners, bumblebees and banana splits.

Kailee Bright towed her two dogs in her wagon, which had been covered with a cage to resemble a prison. The pups were dressed in black-and-white prison garb.

“Me and my friend were looking at the wagon trying to figure out something to do,” Kailee said. “We came up with this.”

Hurley said the society thanks every person who came out and every business that sponsored the event. In a rough economy, it is even more important to support the humane society, she said.

“We have so much support from the community and businesses,” she said. “With the economy being so challenging, anytime people are challenged, animals are even more challenged, because so many people have to turn in their pets.”

“There’s so many heartbreaking stories,” she added. “We can at least help some of those stories have happier endings.”

Fran Duman was named the top fundraiser for the event, while Chelsey Atkinson again was the top youth fundraiser. Punkin’s Pals emerged as the top team.