Close to 60 dogs and their people came out to the sixth annual Dawg Days on a chilly Saturday afternoon for baths, grooming, and fundraising for the Hay River SPCA on July 27.
It was an impressive turn out considering the weather, said Lesli Ward, organizer and Hay River SPCA president.
“It’s great to give back to the community like this,” she said. “It’s been a fun afternoon, except for the weather.”
All funds raised from the event – which included face painting for participants of the human variety, a photo shoot with photographer Jared Monkman, as well as SPCA gear for sale – will go toward the society’s spay and neuter program which gives Hay River residents $150 towards the cost of getting their animal fixed. It also goes to help pay for the treatment of sick dogs at the shelter.
“It’s great to see people coming out and asking questions,” Ward said. “We’re here to promote healthy habits for dogs and answer whatever concerns people may have.”
One dog came in with an eye condition that may require surgery, and Ward said sometimes she makes a few suggestions as to the eating habits of certain canine participants.
“If we see the dog is a bit on the skinny side, we’ll say something,” she said.
But overall, the people and creatures in attendance came out to have a good time.
Mirjam Cross attended the event with her daughter Delayna and dog Sparky, as she has done for several years.
“It’s awesome. We come every year,” said Cross. “It’s just a fun event, and a good chance to give the dog a bath somewhere we don’t have to worry about cleaning up.”
The Hay River Fire Department was also on hand to administer first aid to injured teddy bears. This year’s tally included a few broken arms, several scrapes, and even a couple of wounds requiring stitches.
“It’s a good opportunity to come out and work with the community,” said firefighter Sara Conley. “And it’s a good chance for the kids with bears to see that getting in the ambulance isn’t a scary thing and that we’re nice people.”
Dawg Days is also an opportunity to raise awareness for some of the issues surrounding domesticated animals in the community and Ward was keen to point out that education is her main concern.
“The number of dogs coming through our shelter is growing,” she said, explaining that last year the SPCA saw 160 dogs and that by May this year, the number was already more than half that.
“I cannot emphasize the need to get animals spayed and neutered enough,” she said. “One un-fixed dog can lead to tens-of-thousands of offspring in its lifetime.”
Ward acknowledges that people often want a pure-bred dog, but advocates looking for a breed-specific rescue instead of going to a breeder.
“There are no shortages of even pure-bred dogs up for adoption,” she said.
— Sarah Ladik