Dogs, cats, pigs, birds, rodents, lizards … if it can be a pet, there’s probably a rescue group out there putting forth efforts to ensure any of these displaced, lost or abused animals are cared for. Dogs in particular are so great in numbers; there are rescues and shelters who focus on specific breeds.
While rescue organizations may differ in the animals they serve, they share a common need to raise awareness and funds for their work. For three years the annual Pawz in Park event has had the mission to do just that: to join animal rescue groups and the public for a day of fun, food, music, games, animal awareness, and adoption. “Yes, there will be dogs and cats on site that are available for adoption,” co-founder Jennifer Bloech confirms.
This year’s Pawz in Park will be held at Battleship Park on Saturday, April 30. It will offer a full day of family fun with furry friends from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. However, the event organizers want folks to remember to bring a leash.
Aside from music, food, games, and an all-day DJ, the 2016 event will have raffles, silent auction, pet contests, a rescue-dog parade, dog pools for swimming, police K-9 presentations, as well as a return appearance from Netop the Painting Dog and more.
Bloech took some time to walk encore through the rest of Pawz in Park 2016.
encore (e): What’s your personal connection to Pawz in Park and its cause?
Jennifer Bloech (JB): I am a board member for Pawz Foundation, the parent nonprofit organization that hosts Pawz in Park. I am a member of several Boston Terrier Rescue groups and got involved in Paw Jam many years ago as a volunteer
When the founders of Paw Jam retired the event four years ago, several volunteers within different rescue groups got together to create Pawz in Park, understanding the importance of keeping awareness and fundraising alive through a fun annual event.
e: Tell us about your own rescues.
JB: I have two senior Boston Terriers; I have gravitated toward rescuing older dogs that are no longer wanted and harder to adopt out. It’s amazing to see their transformation from timid animals to spoiled pets that have finally found the love they deserve.
Stella is 9 years old and currently in kidney failure, but doing well! Rambo is 14 years old and never socialized until I adopted him at age 12—he’s a scared old boy, still, but he is loving being loved.
e: For readers who might be unfamiliar with Pawz in Park, can you paint a picture of what the day entails?
JB: It’s our third annual event, created for the sole purpose of educating the community about animal rescue! It’s a nonprofit event, and all monies raised benefit the participating 501(c)3 rescue groups. We’ll have over 20 local animal rescues involved, as well as over 20 pet-related vendors.
We’ll also have a beer tent, food trucks, a silent auction, radio stations on site playing music, plus pet contests. Sledge from the Wilmington Hammerheads will be out from noon until 2 p.m. taking pictures with the kids, and Netop will be onstage doing a live demonstration. It’s fun for all!
e: What’s new with the event this year?
JB: More rescues, more vendors, more fun! Some returning rescues are Coastal Carolina Boston Terrier Rescue, Monty’s Home, Merit Pit Bull, and Operation TopCat. Some new rescues are Chihuahua Rescue, a parrot rescue, Pets for Vets rescue that pairs pups with veterans, and RACE (Rescue Animals Community Effort). None of these were on site last year.
Additional vendors that weren’t at the event last year include Cape Fear Soy Candles, Pretty Puppy Pet Collars, Family Dog Naturals, as well as a jewelry maker, popcorn vendor, food trucks, and more. Some returning vendors are Aunt Kerry’s Pet Stop, Unleashed and the Pets Pal Inn.
Folks can visit our website for a full list at www.PawzinPark.com.
e: Tell us about the pet contests: What do they entail and what’s the prize?
JB: There are three contests: Best-Dressed Pet, Pet/Owner Look-Alike and Best Pet Trick. Actually, each winner wins $100 in encore deals!
e: What can you tell us about past winners?
JB: A bulldog and his owner were proud winners of Pet/Owner Look-Alike last year. A true talent was a singing pooch, and the Best Dressed were two Dobermans in suits and ties—really!
e: What are some of the raffle and silent auction items this year?
JB: Lots of good stuff, including a signed Hammerheads jersey, facials, a year’s worth of free yoga, restaurant certificates, beach bags with koozies, tees and Frisbees, a Cuisinart coffee maker, a staycation at Wrightsville Beach, a donation from Build a Bear, and more!
e: Can you tell readers more about what Pawz in Park proceeds benefit?
JB: One-hundred percent of the proceeds go back to 501(c)3-accredited animal-rescue organizations. The rescue groups use this money to foster, vaccinate, microchip, rehabilitate, and re-home surrendered and stray animals.
e: What do you want folks to know or keep in mind if they’d like to bring their pooch to Pawz in Park?
JB: Please, clean up after your pooch, and be mindful of the interaction with children and other dogs. But have fun! We will have dog pools set up so the pups can enjoy a refreshing dip!
e: Is there anything else you’d like to share with encore readers about 2016’s Pawz in Park?
JB: There are so many animals that need adopting. There are so many rescue groups in need of volunteers. This event is a wonderful way to get exposure for the rescue groups and selfless volunteers who give their homes, hearts and resources to animals in need.
Please, join us to help these wonderful local causes! Perhaps you’ll end up finding a new best friend.