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Barktoberfest is "two-legged and four-legged friendly”

Hannah Swayze • Oct 8, 2018 at 3:33 PM

Editor’s note: On the Thursday, Oct. 4, issue of the Johnson City Press, the Humane Society of Washington County’s Barktoberfest event was listed as taking place on Saturday. The actual date of the event is Saturday Oct. 13 from 3-8 p.m. in Founders Park in downtown Johnson City.

Spend a Saturday out in Founders Park with your four-legged friends on Oct. 13 at the Humane Society of Washington County’s second annual Barktoberfest in downtown Johnson City. 

What is Barktoberfest?

Barktoberfest is one of the Washington County Humane Society’s two major fundraisers of the year. Being a very small organization, they only have three paid employees, and there are not many grants available. 

“We do not receive any help or funds from government — city, county or anything,” said Sandra Lewis, Humane Society board member and an organizer of the event. 

So, this event brings in a lot of the society’s funding for the year, while also providing a fun day for the community. Beginning at 3 p.m. on Oct. 13, it is filled with a variety of activities for those with two and four legs. 

Pets and owners will have the extent of Founders Park to play, eat, watch agility demonstrations and enjoy live music. There will also be a Puppy Bowl for the younger set to get a little exercise and competition.

Bark-or-Treat Village will open at 4 p.m., and owners can take their four-legged friends trick-or-treating under the Founders Park pavilion along with other activities.

The costume contest (with prizes) will start at 4:30 p.m., followed by the Monster Dash 5K run and Monster Mile walk at 5:30 p.m. Packet pickup for those events begins at 3 p.m. Awards will be announced at 6:30 p.m., and it all will come to an end as the sun sets at 8 p.m.

Where does the money go?

Money raised on Saturday goes to the Humane Society of Washington County, which then uses the funds to take care of animals in need in Washington County and the surrounding region. 

Throughout the year, the society provides low-cost and low-income spay and neutering for pets. The foster care and adoption program cares for dogs and cats without families. Foster pets who come through the Humane Society are spayed or neutered, receive all their shots, are microchipped and fully cared for while at their temporary homes.

The Humane Society of Washington County also has a Lend-a-Paw program that provides interim care for pets of veterans who are being hospitalized or having a medical procedure done. It’s a program they hope to expand to include to help victims of domestic violence. 

Right now, a big part of the society’s work is their TNR program. TNR stands for Trap Neuter Release, and is applied to colonies of cats in the region.

“We go out and trap them humanely,” said Lewis. “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.” 

According to Lewis, cats can start breeding at the age of 4 months and have about three or four litters a season. With each litter averaging 3-4 offspring, that’s a lot of cats. A lot of humane societies across the country have similar programs that hope to keep the feral cat colonies from growing. 

Why should you help?

The more money the Humane Society of Washington County raises, the more animals they can help. Lewis says that she encourages everyone to adopt. 

“When you think about all the cats and dogs that are out there that do not have homes, it just makes so much more sense to give those animals a home than go to a breeder,said Lewis. 

Lewis also pointed out that adopting dogs and cats can be cheaper than buying certain breeds, not to mention that dogs in foster care already have been socialized, and foster families can learn about their personalities to make sure the pet and the person adopting are a good fit.

She said she understands wanting to buy a certain breed and knows plenty of great breeders, but she prefers adoption. 

“A mutt can be just as good a dog or companion and they need the love as much as anybody else,” said Lewis.

For more information or to donate to the Humane Society of Washington County, visit hswctn.org or call 423-926-8533.

How can you help the Humane Society of Washington County?

1. Participate in the Monster Mile 5K or the Monster Mile on Oct. 13. Registration is $25, and runners can be entered as an individual or as part of a fundraising team. Packet pickup for racers and walkers will begin at 3 p.m. Oct. 13. The race and walk both commence at 5:30 p.m.

2. Enter your pet to be the duke or duchess of Barktoberfest. Visit the Human Society of Washington County’s website and create a fundraising page for your pet and have your friends and family vote for them to be crowned at Barktoberfest. Each vote is $5.

3. Share the event on Facebook. Not only those with pets can come to the Barktoberfest. Invite friends and family and encourage them to take part, too.

4. Foster a pet. Fostering a cat or a dog gives them the opportunity to live with a family or in a loving environment until their forever home comes along. It also gives the pets the opportunity to be socialized and express their personality, making it easier to match them with an owner.

5. Just donate money. To donate money to the Humane Society of Washington County, visit www.hswctn.org. To contact the Humane Society, call 423-926-8533. Their mailing address is Humane Society of Washington County, 2101 W. Walnut St., Johnson City, TN 37604.

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