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Dogs have their day at Founders Park

Robert Houk • Oct 14, 2018 at 12:00 AM

Johnson City’s Founders Park went to the dogs Saturday afternoon.

The Humane Society of Washington County held its Halloween-themed Barktoberfest fundraiser at the park featuring puppies at play and dogs of all sizes in costumes.

The event included a live band, canine agility demonstrations, a puppy bowl playground and a Halloween costume contest.

Nikki Smith said she and her golden retriever Sunny “ stumbled” onto Barktoberfest after traveling from Kingsport to check out Founders Park. The two were enjoying the puppies in the playground tent.

“Sunny loves puppies and kids, so he’s having a good time,” Smith said.

Angie Sheek, one of the vendors at Barktoberfest, said the crisp fall day was perfect for the event.

“There’s lots of people and their pets in costumes,” said Sheek, who sells homemade organic pet treats. “It’s very colorful and cool.”

Barktoberfest is one of the HSWC’s two major fundraisers of the year. Money raised from the event is used to take care of animals in need in Washington County and surrounding counties.

The HSWC provides low-cost and low-income spay and neutering for pets. Its foster care and adoption program cares for dogs and cats without families.

Foster pets who come through the HSWC are spayed or neutered, receive all their shots, are microchipped and fully cared for while in their temporary homes.

Jessica Leu, a HSWC foster parent, was working at the society’s puppy kissing booth Saturday with her latest foster dog, Leia, a 9-week-old bulldog/collie mix. Leu has fostered more than 80 dogs in the past 12 years.

“It’s so great and fulfilling to see them go to their forever homes,” she said.

The HSWC also offers a Lend-a-Paw program that provides interim care for pets of veterans who are being hospitalized or having a medical procedure performed. It’s a program the society hopes to expand to include to help victims of domestic violence.

Another important part of the HSWC’s work is the Trap Neuter Release program to deal with a growing number of cat colonies in the region.

“We go out and trap them humanely,”  Sandra Lewis, a HSWC board member and an organizer of Barktoberfest, told the Press. “We trap them, take them to the vet, have them spayed or neutered, keep them overnight, then take them back and return them to the area.”

For more information or to donate to the Humane Society of Washington County, visit hswctn.org or call 926-8533.

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