The fur flew on Saturday at the second “Woofstock: Mutts and Music Festival,” hosted by Friends of the Animal Shelter.
The event was held as a celebration of dogs and their people and is a major avenue through which FOTUS raises money for the Aiken County Animal Shelter.
Participants paid an entry fee, which gave them access to a variety of demonstrations, contests and vendors.
“Speed Dating” was an effort to get shelter dogs at the event adopted.
“We take the adoptable dogs in the ring, and people who may be interested in them will come in and spend a few minutes with them, then move to the next dog,” said Edie Hubler, an event organizer.
Participants could also enter their dogs in a Best Kisser, Best Trick or Best Costume contest (Best Kisser judged the best “kiss” between dog and owner).
During the day, a variety of vendors had items and services for sale, from T-shirts (for humans and dogs) and treats, to day care and obedience classes.
Serenading attendees throughout the day were 93.9 Bob FM, Tony B. of WKSC 92.7 FM and The Wilcox’s jazz band, appropriately named 4 Cats in a Doghouse.
While the contests took place in one ring, in a separate ring next to it were open areas for dogs to play and try out equipment with Aiken Pet Fitness and Rehabilitation, which also held demonstrations.
It was all good fun for what Hubler said is an urgent need. The proceeds from Saturday’s event will go to the Aiken County Animal Shelter, which is in need of a new facility.
“The county shelter is an antiquated, pathetic building,” Hubler said. “It’s terrible.”
FOTAS was started three years ago by three women as an animal-advocacy group and has grown to more than 1,000 members, according to Mary Lou Welch, FOTAS vice president.
The Aiken County Council will fund the building of a new animal shelter, but FOTAS is preparing to kick-off a capital campaign in January to cover the remaining costs, said Welch.
“We’re trying to raise money for everything else – if you were to take the building and shake it upside down, everything that would come out,” Welch said. “Our goal is to augment the money that the County is spending for this new shelter, that will provide the quality and size that we need.”
The current shelter has long outgrown the needs of the county’s animals, Welch said. Additionally, it lacks proper ventilation, and has inadequate waste management and open trench drains that cause cross-contamination.
Though a majority of the animals brought to the shelter are adoptable, more than 92 percent of them are euthanized every year.
“It was built to support about 100 animals a month,” Welch said. “Now, we get in over 100 animals a day. We had 5,000 animals surrendered last year. It’s a horror story.”
Wendi Ryan, of Charlotte, N.C., was happy to do her part to help this story have a happy ending. She, along with her daughter Merryn and their dog Mason, came to Aiken to visit family and take part in Woofstock.
“We’ve visited the rescue dogs, done the bounce house and purchased from some of the vendors, and of course, we had lunch,” Ryan said while they waited in line for the Best Trick contest. “It’s awesome to have the dogs out to be able to socialize with each other. When we first brought him, he was a little excited. He’s completely calmed down now and is one with his peeps.”
Chris Randall, of Aiken, along with his dog Casey, put on a good show in the trick contest and took second place.
“This is just sort of a normal play routine with her,” Randall said. “She needs about two to three exercise periods a day where she just gets her tongue hanging out. She has a lot of energy, and I like to say she has a little ADD.”
Staff photo by Teddy Kulmala Andrew Singer gets a smooch from his dog Jazzy during the Best Kisser Contest at Saturday’s “Woofstock: Mutts and Music Festival,” which raised money for the Aiken County Animal Shelter.×
Staff photo by Teddy Kulmala Majesty, dressed as a Chick-fil-A cow, gets finishing touches on her costume before the Best Costume contest at Saturday’s “Woofstock: Mutts and Music Festival,” which raised money for the Aiken County Animal Shelter.×