Mutt Strut deemed success

Published 11:13 pm Monday, May 6, 2013

The fifth annual Mutt Strut on Sunday was deemed a success after it raised thousands of dollars, draw the highest attendance for the event ever and resulted in at least three adoptions of dogs.

“We are so excited today,” Suffolk Humane Society director of community outreach Kay Hurley said. “I think the turnout’s been better than ever. We’ve had a great turnout for the pledge walk. The entertainment’s been fabulous. People are just smiling and happy and everybody’s having a wonderful time.”

Rob New and his dogs Jackie, left, and Jasmine, right, were among thousands of human and canine attendees at the fifth annual Mutt Strut on Sunday at Sleepy Hole Park.

Rob New and his dogs Jackie, left, and Jasmine, right, were among thousands of human and canine attendees at the fifth annual Mutt Strut on Sunday at Sleepy Hole Park.

Thousands of people and their pets came to the event at Sleepy Hole Park, which was the first in a year and a half because the organization wanted to move the event to springtime. Despite overcast skies and a slightly chilly wind, the move apparently paid off with higher attendance.

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Top fundraisers for the pledge walk were top youth Cameron Allen, who raised more than $800; top adult Fran Duman, who raised more than $2,500; and top team hope and Friends, which raised more than $1,200.

Thousands of dogs of all shapes and sizes, from Chihuahuas to Great Danes, descended on the park with their people to enjoy the event.

The pups had a variety of contests to take part in. They could test their speed-eating with a Frosty Paws eating contest, channel their inner track star in the Race the Wind contest — for which police officers provided assistance with their radar guns — or get all dressed up for the canine costume contest.

They could also watch their law-enforcement counterparts in a demonstration by the Suffolk Police Department’s K-9 unit or be entertained by The Flying Jacks, a team of Jack Russell terriers trained to catch Frisbees, walk on a balance beam, climb a ladder and even skateboard down a track.

Dogs were able to have their portrait taken by Laura Solomon, get free veterinary advice and more.

Some pups even got new parents at the event, as three dogs were adopted from the Suffolk Animal Care Center. A number of rescue organizations were able to collect information from potential adopters and raise awareness of the breed they work with.

Maria Schiefer of the Bully Advocate and Rescue Collective said the organization visits as many events as possible to alert people to the fact that breeds traditionally known as “bullies” — like pit bulls, bulldogs and mastiffs — have gotten an unfair reputation through the years, she said.

“We just try to bring awareness to the fact that they’re just dogs,” she said.

Even reptiles got some love at the event, as the Virginians Interested In Protecting Every Reptile, or VIIPER, organization was on hand with adoptable critters and some of their own reptiles to show off, including a sulcata tortoise, 100-puond albino Burmese python and a reticulated python.

“We feel it’s important to protect not only the furry animals but also the scaly ones,” said Scott Rising, a volunteer for VIIPER.

For more photos from Mutt Strut, visit the Suffolk News-Herald’s Facebook page.