By Erin Eschels
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer
With large numbers of shelter animals, the Ingham County Animal Shelter has been eager to find fun ways to show the community the animals it has to offer. Recently, the shelter hosted the Humanitarian Awards Banquet to honor those who dedicate a lot to the shelter. The next major event is the annual Woofer Walk 2014, where dogs and their owners participate in a 1.5-mile walk around Michigan State University’s campus to raise money for homeless animals. During June 13-14, the 30-hour Adopt-A-Fest will take place at Potter Park Zoo to bring awareness to the animals in need and increase adoption opportunities.
Besides the annual events, the shelter also has weekly events to showcase its animal residents, such as the Dog Walking Club and the mobile, on-site adoption appearances.
Humanitarian Awards Banquet
The annual awards banquet, held March 13, was a way for Ingham County to recognize members of the community that help with the animals.
“The media that helps and the volunteers are given awards, as well for certain things like the extreme foster award, or those that volunteer over 500 hours, or those in the community that help with monetary donations or advertising for free, things like that,” said Cinnamon Simpson, an awards selection committee member and adoption counselor for the shelter.
“We have big things coming up, mainly the Woofer Walk on May 17,” said shelter volunteer Jackie Gates. “We walk on the MSU campus along the river, it’s really beautiful and it’s a fundraiser for the animal care fund, so it’s a great cause.”
The event is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. and will meet at the Fairchild Auditorium on MSU’s campus.
Due to the harshness of our recent winter, the animal population at the shelter has greatly gone up, says Gates, which leaves staff anxious to get new pets adopted. On June 13-14, the shelter will hold its Adopt-A-Fest, where volunteers stay with animals at the Potter Park Zoo for 30 straight hours adopting cats and dogs.
“We usually bring in animals from other counties for this so that we have a big variety of animals,” said Gates. “There is someone there 24/7 with the animals, we have people that sleep over, then the adoption event is during the day, along with a food tent, a dunk tank and a lot of fun games.”
The event is free to come in and walk around, with costs varying for adoption of the animals.
Dog Walking Club
The Dog Walking Club is a group of volunteers who come and walk the shelter dogs every Wednesday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. Currently, the shelter has around 30 dogs and the club usually has 15-20 people come out and join to get some of the dogs out into the community and take them for a walk around Mason. The designated path is about a mile and a half, which gets the dogs some interaction with other people says club member and shelter volunteer Trisha Struck.
“We actually have a spot that we stop and kind of let the dogs chill out and relax, so the people can interact with the dogs,” said Struck. “We have a ton of people who will stop as they’re driving down the road. We’ve gotten people to give us donations, we’ve had dogs that someone has fallen in love with, then come to adopt just because they had seen them in the community with us. It is a great way to get exposure for the dogs.”
Besides their twice a week meetings, the club also participates in various parades throughout the year. There is the Fourth of July parade in Mason, and around seven others during the summer in which the Dog Walking Club has gotten involved.
To volunteer for the club, one must first go through a volunteer training to join.
“Anyone can be a volunteer if they want to come out and do it,” said Struck. “When someone signs up for the Dog Walking Club, we are always willing to welcome them to our group. It’s just a great experience.”