Saturday morning, Austin dogs of all shapes and sizes and their companions walked, or in this case strutted, to a canine-friendly festival at Mueller Lake Park to benefit homeless pets in Austin.
September 28 Best Friends Animal Society’s nationwide event “Strut Your Mutt” came to Austin. The 18th annual fund raising dog walk and festival raises money for local animal rescues and shelters across the United States.
The dog walk includes many colorful characters, both dog and human. Dogs and their owners were dressed up in a variety of cute and funny costumes and seemed more than happy to sacrifice their Saturday morning for the cause. However, the most incredible part was the stories of how these people and their dogs were united. Each story was as sweet and touching as the next, like Sheryl, a volunteer at the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter, who got so attached to three-legged dog Gizmo during his rehabilitation that she made him part of her family.
Best Friends Animal Society public relations specialist Temma Martin said a big draw is that people can choose to donate their money to any of 240 rescues and shelters, 14 of which are Austin area-based.
“People can decide where they want their money to go, to best friends or a partner group,” said Martin. “Its not just a fundraiser for us – we’re helping local shelters throughout the country.” While Austin’s fund raising goal was $100,000, Best Friends hopes to raise $2 million total from their 11 events nationwide.
After the morning strut, mutts and their owners were able to participate in a bevy of dog-themed activities ranging from doggie yoga and paw-dicures to consultations with trainers. There were food venues for both people and dogs.
Best Friends Animal Society was founded almost 30 years ago. The organization’s purpose is to raise money for local groups and to end killing in animal shelters. Their new campaign, Save Them All, reiterates their concept of helping groups that help their goal.
Gregory Castle, Best Friends’ chief executive officer, said the annual Strut Your Mutt event is a helpful way to get the public involved. “Strut Your Mutt is a celebratory way for the shelters and groups to come together and invite the public to join them and Best Friends in the fight to save lives.”
The organization currently has three main initiatives: puppy mills, neutering feral cats and pit bulls. “Cats and Pit Bulls are probably the most-killed animals in the country, so these are important issues to educate on,” Martin said.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, approximately five to seven million animals are placed in shelters each year. Of those animals, three to four million are euthanized.
“People don’t realize 9,000 healthy, adoptable pets are killed in shelters every day,” Martin said.