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Barktoberfest is a hit for the Humane Society of Washington County

Hannah Swayze • Updated Oct 28, 2017 at 10:01 AM

Founders Park in Johnson City turned into a dog-lover’s dream Saturday night as pets and their owners took over for the first Barktoberfest.

An extension of the Humane Society’s annual Bark-or-Treat, Barktoberfest was the second-largest fundraiser of the year for the Humane Society of Washington County. The night carried a classic Octoberfest theme, but with a twist for furry friends.

Sandra Lewis, a member of the Humane Society of Washington County board, said this year they went all out. The Bark-or-Treat event grew too large for the location on West Walnut Street, so they had to find another site for the event — and then said, “why not add a little more to it?”

So, what had been a simple trick-or-treat event for dogs turned into a large occasion with live music, food trucks and endless activities.

The event had plenty of interactive stations for the dogs, such as an agility course, and trick-or-treating along with plenty of photo opportunities. Dogs of all shapes and sizes, costume or no costume, ran around socializing and making new friends.

For the owners, Tennessee Hills Distillery was on-site mixing up custom cocktails. The event even had its own special beer, concocted by JRH Brewing.

Barktoberfest also featured a costume contest, canine training demonstrations from GymDog LLC, boardwalk games, a puppy bowl and the Monster Dash Glow Walk for both pets and owners.

But the night is not simply for fun.

It is also a big night of fundraising for the Humane Society.  Though the total raised had yet to be counted, Lewis said that as of Saturday morning, they had reached at least $34,000 of their $50,000 goal. And all of the last-minute and on-site registrations are not included in that number.

The money donated will go toward the cost of taking care of the animals: to various programs to spay and neuter animals, a veterans program, partnerships to feed the pets of those served by Meals on Wheels, taking care of animals who are in foster homes and for vet visits. 

Each of the programs is a step toward the Humane Society’s goal of a no-kill community. 

“There are just so many homeless and neglected animals and they have no one,” said Lewis, “Somebody has got to step up and take charge and do something to help them, so we are just kind of their voice.”

The next fundraiser for the Humane Society of Washington County is called Prohibition for the Paws on Dec. 9, 2017, hosted by Tennessee Hills Distillery. For more information, The Humane Society of Washington County can be found on Facebook or on their website at http://hswctn.org.

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