Pups on the run

D id you know that the Humane Society of Greater Dayton (HSGD) has been “Finding Great Homes For Great Pets” since 1902? The National Humane Society did not begin until the 1950s, but they don’t actually have shelters. While the national branch is more about raising money and changing policies, the Dayton branch is acting […]

Four-leggeds join two-leggeds
with Humane Society’s Furry Skurry

The 27th Annual Furry Skurry will help the Humane Society help pets all year round.

By Dana Walczak

Did you know that the Humane Society of Greater Dayton (HSGD) has been “Finding Great Homes For Great Pets” since 1902? The National Humane Society did not begin until the 1950s, but they don’t actually have shelters. While the national branch is more about raising money and changing policies, the Dayton branch is acting on the front lines in the community.

Brian Weltge is HSGD’s President and CEO. He and PR Manager Jessica “JJ” Garringer provided some insight into what it really takes to find homes for these
deserving animals.

“It takes places like the MeowZa Cat Boutique at the Dayton Mall,” Garringer says. “The MeowZa Boutique is run primarily by volunteers. All of the cats they have there are Humane Society cats. It’s a great place because people are out shopping and for us, it’s really about getting as many animals as we can out to where people are.”

The love and care from people who, according to their mission statement, have a vested interest and desire to “ensure that all animals will be wanted” results in a number of yearly fundraisers including golf outings, Pet-a-Flair galas, and events like the
Furry Skurry.

As a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, the HSGD relies heavily on community support in the forms of donations and volunteers. Garringer points out that because the HSGD is an independent nonprofit, they do not receive any government funding. And with only the help of the community, they have been able to save literally thousands of animals.

“Just sharing the word, and sharing the animals out to people that you know—well, that really makes a difference for us,” JJ says.

In addition to dogs and cats, the HSGD will take in any animal they can, including bunnies, horses, pigs, and snakes. It’s fair to say that if they can help, they will. If they can’t directly help, they will find someone who can.

“Even though people aren’t intending to get a pet, many times the pet picks the person,” Weltge says. “You see them, they make eye contact, and they have certain movements, certain gestures—and all of a sudden, you are like ‘Oh my gosh, I wasn’t even looking for a dog, or a cat, or a rabbit, and now I am interested in this.’ But they wouldn’t be if they hadn’t been exposed to that pet.”

A great way to get involved with the Humane Society is by attending the 27th Annual Furry Skurry 5K and Furry Fest on Saturday, May 26th at Eastwood MetroPark. Last year’s event had over 2000 participants, and organizers hope that this year’s event will help to find forever homes for even more deserving animals.

You can choose to either participate in a 5K race, a one-mile fun run, or the Furry Fest. Bonus: If you only do the Furry Fest, children under 16 are free. And obviously, fur babies are encouraged to participate. But make sure you bring your superhero attire, because the theme is “Be a Superhero for Pets!”

“It was about three years ago when we went with the superhero theme and it just kind of stuck,” Garringer says. “People just sort of embraced it. Be a Hero became a thing because people began to realize that even if they can’t be here, they can still make a difference. They can still be a hero.”

According to Mr. Weltge, none of this would be possible without the help of
their volunteers.

“I don’t think they realize that they are heroes when they come and volunteer,” he says. “They don’t realize that their time is more valuable than their money. They are helping us help animals. They are the backbone of our organization, and we consider
them heroes.”

The Society has many things planned for the event. In addition to a dog-bone bar and a pet costume contest, there will be a human bar with Bloody Marys, Mimosas, beer, and wine. Atlas the Wonder Dog will be on hand, as well as a goat yoga presentation by Secret Eden.

Other attractions include a kid’s play zone, live music by Funky G and the Groove Machine, a food truck rally, and over 60 vendors in the Furry Skurry’s Flea(less) Market. Another big draw is the Kitten Nursery, where kittens will be available to snuggle and melt hearts.

“This is really kind of a show-and-tell as far as the kittens go,” Garringer says. “The Furry Skurry is primarily a dog event, but we want to make sure that every animal has the opportunity to find a home.”

Participants who may not be able to actually attend may sign up online to be “Virtual Walkers” for $30 (or $20 for youth), and still be able to help out. Virtual walkers will receive all of the same goodies as those who can be there in person.

“People tend to think that we are trying to get money or adopt pets to them,” Weltge says. “But there are so many ways that you can help other than giving us money or adopting a pet.”

“If you love gardening, come down and help us keep our place clean,” he says. “If you have great customer service skills, come down and help us answer phones. There are so many things people can do to help, whatever your skill set.”

The Furry Skurry 5K and Furry Fest will be held on May 26 at Eastwood Metro Park, 1385 Harshman Road, Dayton. For more information and race details, visit hsdayton.org, or call 937.268.7387. 

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Reach DCP freelance writer Dana Walczak at DanaWalczak@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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