There will be plenty of tail waggin’ and barkin’ fun going on Saturday at Fuqua Park. It’s the first Bark in the Park event and organizers are hoping that the dogs bring their owners for the Stephens County Humane Society fundraiser.

While there will be several of the shelter’s dogs and cats at the event for adoption, the focus will be on the relationship between dogs and their owners with a variety of contests, a few vendors and other activities.

This is a major fundraiser, said David Brummett, who has worked at the SCHS shelter for about 8 years. The fun starts at 11 a.m., though organizers have been working on the details for months.

The big event of the day is the Strut Your Mutt walkathon. Registration forms are still available. Donations and pledge sheets must be turned in by 2 p.m. Saturday to be eligible for prizes and a T-shirt. There is a registration fee of $10. Walk-a-thon prizes will go to the walkers submitting the top donations.

Keeping the event fun with a major focus on family and dog relationships, coordinators have several contests set. Ranging from Best Dressed Dog to Best Trick, it will be sure to draw some laughter. There will also be Best Owner Look-Alike, Best Bark and Longest Tail contests. There is an entry fee for each dog, per category.

And while it’s called Bark in the Park, cats aren’t going to be left out. A cat photo contest also will give people a chance to vote for their favorite cat. The cat with the most votes will get a custom-built cat tree.

Another SCHS staff member, Denise Lacy, said there are six different stations for people to browse. Proceeds from the sales at some of those vendors, along with registration fees and donations will help the shelter with the daily operations of caring for stray animals.

Board member Patti Whitaker is probably one of the most enthusiastic individuals connected with the event. About four months ago, she contacted various individuals to see if they would help make the day a success.

Among the services to be offered — with proceeds or a portion of the proceeds going to the shelter — are professional pet photographs, massages, gourmet bakery treats and a raffle for a designer dog house or a custom-built cat tree.

Fuqua Park is a city-owned and maintained public park, which means those bringing dogs to the event will need to abide by park regulations.

Kathy Bowles, SCHS shelter manager, said she wants people to make sure their dogs are leashed. Her big concern is the high volume of traffic that goes by and through the park, which is located on U.S. Highway 81. There also will be doggie bags to collect any “particles” the dogs may leave behind. Dogs also must have current vaccinations and license.

Dogs in heat or that are not socially-friendly are not allowed at the event. Also, no puppies under 6 months are allowed in the park.

And while it may seem like a lot of “don’ts” it’s meant to keep pets and children safe so that everyone can have a happy day. Water will be provided, but dog owners must take a bowl for their pet.

Lacy and Brummett are both excited about “Scooter” time. Participants will get to meet Scooter and hear the story of a little dog who has definitely overcome a disability. Donations also will be accepted to help purchase a new wheelchair for Scooter, the SCHS mascot.

“We’re also going to have nail clipping and a doggie boutique,” Lacy said. While she’s been busy working and isn’t sure how many people know about the family and dog-fun event, she said Plato Elementary generously sent home more than 100 fliers with students to help spread the word.

There will be a bake sale sponsored by the Friends of the Humane Society. Baked goods are still needed.

Memorial donations will be accepted in memory of a pet or person. All memorials will be published in the SCHS newsletter.

Betty Burk is the Bark in the Park event chairman.

For information, call the SCHS shelter, 580-252-7387.

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