• Annual event raises funds for HAF spay/neuter program
Back in 2000, animal lovers Kathy Franz and Peg Price wanted to find a way to support Homer Animal Friends and create a fundraiser similar to Anchorage’s Friends of Pets event. They came up with Strut Your Mutt, and welcomed 24 dog owners and their dogs to the inaugural event.
A few things have changed in the last 15 years of mutt-strutting; this year’s edition includes contests for the best kisses, best singing, games like musical hoops, and a walk through dog-friendly trails in the Homer area.
The purpose of the event, however, hasn’t changed at all.
“Strut is a lot of fun for both dogs and their owners, and promotes and strengthens the human/pet bonding experience,” said Lynn Kee, Strut Coordinator and HAF president. “The dogs and their people always have such a great time.”
It’s also a great way to raise funds for HAF’s spay/neuter program; usually around $1,000 each year.
“In 1995, we provided spay/neuter coupons for 168 pets and in 2013 — 485,” said Pat Boone, HAF Board Member. “Since HAF began, we have spent a total of $266,057 on the spay/neuter program.”
If you don’t have a dog, you are welcome to make arrangements ahead of time with the Homer Animal Shelter, and they will provide you with a mutt to strut. It also provides shelter dogs an opportunity to socialize and interact with other dogs.
“Last year, a volunteer walked a shelter dog and ended up taking it home,” Kee said. “We would love it if more shelter dogs were walked and of course, if they were adopted during Strut.”
Kee said around 50 people bring their dogs out to the fundraiser each year, and three to four others make arrangements to bring a shelter dog out to join the fun.
Darlene Hildebrand participated in Strut Your Mutt four times with her dog Raphaela, who passed away in 2008.
“Raphaela got to be in the community of all kinds of other dogs,” Hildebrand said. “Strut was always a way of showing love for her and a way of showing her off.”
Pat Boone is an HAF Board Member and has been with Strut since the very beginning.
“I have always enjoyed watching families having a good time with their dog,” she said. “What a great message parents are sending to their children on pet owner responsibility.”
HAF is a group of local individuals using advocacy and education to improve the lives of animals in Homer. It is a 100 percent volunteer, grass roots organization, governed by a Board of Directors and funded through grants, donations, memberships and fundraisers.
“We foster responsible pet ownership, and educate families to ensure pets and their companions live in harmony,” said Janet Higley, also an HAF Board member. “We support the homeless pets at the shelter and provide assistance with emergency veterinary expenses.”
This year’s Strut Your Mutt is this Saturday, 4 – 6 p.m., rain or shine. It takes place at City Park, at the corner of Sterling Highway and Pioneer Avenue. Pre-registration is available online at homeranimals.com or at 4 p.m. on the day of the event. Volunteers are needed to serve as crossing guards and to walk shelter dogs.
Dogs must be on a leash at all times and must be updated on their shots.
Cost to Strut Your Mutt is $10 for HAF members or $25 for member families; nonmembers are $12 and $30. Everyone is encouraged to get pledges to help with fundraising. For more information, pledge forms or to register or volunteer, visit homeranimals.com or call Lynn Kee at 756-1760.
To arrange to walk a shelter dog, contact Sherry Bess at 235-3141 or stop by the Homer Animal Shelter between noon and 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
“Showing owners the fun they can have with their dog by taking a walk through town or teaching them a new trick is what the Strut is all about,” Boone said.
Strut Your Mutt is supported locally by Homer Veterinary Clinic, Lisa Anne’s Dog Grooming, Soldotna Animal Hospital, Homer Hounds, Ulmer’s Drug and Hardware, the Homer Tribune and Qwik Draw Water.
Spay/neuter coupons focus on animals adopted from the shelter and are available at Barb’s Video. They can be used at Homer Veterinary Clinic and are available to those on public assistance, for multiple dogs and for low-income owners.
HAF also hosts several dog and cat discount neuter clinics every year and provide complete coverage for spaying and neutering pets for people on public assistance or with financial difficulties.
Strut your Mutt Schedule
4-4:45 p.m. Registration
4:15-4:45 p.m. Games and contests. (musical downs, water relay, best singer)
4:45-5:15 p.m. Shelter dog line-up and walk. (Participants will be judged for best costume, best owner/dog look-alike and best mutt contests with winners announced after the walk
5:15-6 p.m. Games/contests: Best dog kisses, musical sits (kids only), best trick
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