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Humane Society fundraiser brings dozens of dog owners to Capaha Park
About 100 people and their canine family members gathered in Capaha Park on Saturday morning for the 17th annual Bark in the Park, a fundraiser for the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri that brings together dog owners, local vendors and dogs of all breeds and sizes.
Rochelle Steffen, a volunteer with the Humane Society for over 10 years, said the event is important for dogs and owners alike.
"A social event for dogs is important for teaching good manners," Steffen said. "It's also great exercise for them and their owners."
A $20 registration fee gave owners entry in to the walk around the pond, a T-shirt for the event and a sponsored lunch from McAlister's Deli. There were open contests for the dogs, including prizes for the biggest dog, smallest dog, best costume and best trick.
Dustin Hente, an owner of three dogs and Dusty's Dog House, a pet-grooming salon in Cape Girardeau, believes the event is great for small businesses like his.
"It's definitely an opportunity to introduce myself, let them see my work, and bring in new clients," said Hente, who was offering nail clippings for dogs at his stand.
Kelly Goff, the director of the local Humane Society, said it is important to raise both money and awareness.
"We raise awareness on spay and neutering," she said. "There is such a pet overpopulation problem. Our shelter takes in over 4,000 pets per year."
Many of those attending believe that adopting rescued pets is a better way to go than adopting from breeders.
"Most rescues need the love and a good home, and breeders tend to have cruel environments," said Tony Thompson, who attended the event with his daughter and their two rescued dogs, Grady and Dash.
Thompson lost his three dogs in a house fire in April and found Grady, an English bulldog that survived a kennel fire.
"I had to get him," Thompson said. "I love his personality. The exercise was great for him today. He'll probably sleep for seven or eight hours when we get home."
Bark in the Park raised nearly $1,000 for the Humane Society.
Goff considered the event a success. "Personally, what's important to me is that I see a lot of the pets that were adopted from the Humane Society with their new families and being loved," she said.
Capaha Park, Cape Girardeau MO