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Pets are Worth Saving:

Paw Jam
Saturday, May 7
11 a.m. – 5 p.m. • $5
Battleship Park

PAWS FOR A CAUSE: Folks and their furry friends enjoy the fun to be had at a past Paw Jam. Courtesy photo.

Ten years ago, Pender County Humane Society (PCHS) was an animal rescue group functioning without a shelter. They needed financial support to be able to provide housing and proper care for the pets they saved. Around the same time, PAWS (Pets Are Worth Saving) of NC formed to raise funds and awareness for no-kill, non-profit rescue organizations. They were pivotal in saving the lives of so many animals. Since 2001, they have raised and distributed $120,000 to rescues. PCHS is one beneficiary that saw the most change.

“PCHS has been with us from the beginning,” Donna Best-Klingel, one of the founders of PAWS of NC, explains. “We watched them grow and get financially on their feet, purchase land and build their own shelter.”

The humane society now has a thrift store, which accepts donations in all forms—from home decor to linens to clothing. All of proceeds from For Our Furry Friends goes directly to PCHS. The shelter has learned through the assistance of PAWS of NC how to be a stable non-profit, and it is now able to take more animals than the organization originally dreamed.

The tale of PCHS is just one success story for PAWS of NC. Vendors, sponsors, bands and the community come together during Paw Jam for a one-day festival all about animals. The 2011 event takes place this Saturday, May 7, at Battleship Park.

From 11 a.m until 5 p.m., people and their pets will gather at the park to support the 10 participating shelters. Adopt-an-Angel, Cape Fear House Rabbit Society, Carolina Boxer Rescue and Operation Top Cat are just a few who benefit from the event. These groups are all verified non-profits, as PAWS of NC began requiring proper financial documentation after the first few Paw Jams. Attendees can rest assured that their money will directly help the organizations rescue and care for animals.

Money raised from the festival begins with a $5 donation entry fee. From there, funds spent at the 50-plus vendors are added to the grand total. “All the money goes to the groups, and in the past couple years we’ve raised $15,000 [per event],” she says.

Vendors at Paw Jam will be entirely pet-related, including folks selling handmade jewelry in the shape of animals, shops that specialize in leashes and clothing, and even local pet bakeries. Miller Lite is sponsoring a beer garden on site, too. Of course, soda and water are available, and a food court will offer pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, popcorn and ice cream.

The Mr. and Ms. Paw Jam contest is yet another way for patrons to raise money for participating shelters. Pet parents can fill out a form for $5 explaining why their animals should be crowned. The PAWS of NC board members will choose a winner, and the champions will come on stage to receive gift baskets and a professional photo shoot. “We want to hear stories that tug at our heartstrings,” Best-Klingel says.

Topping off the fun are three bands that volunteered to play the fund-raiser for free. Tommy B. and the Stingers are a rhythm, blues and boogie band that have played each Paw Jam since its inception. Masonboro Sound, End of the Line, and Goodbye Babylon are also on the bill.

The rescue groups will bring animals available for adoption, but due to heat will periodically rotate them. Thirsty pets will enjoy replenishing at the animal water stations, and a doggie play area will have 10 kid-sized pools for pups to cool off in. Plus, three veterinarian offices will appear as vendors, but one will be on hand to offer care should anything happen.

“Atlantic Animal Hospital is our official first-aid provider,” Best-Klingel explains. “If a dog steps on a bee or gets overheated, the vets will be able to treat them.”

Unfortunately, this is the last Paw Jam our city will see for a while. Best-Klingel and her husband devoted the past several years to running PAWS of NC, and it’s time for them to focus on other aspects of their lives. “This will not be the last ever, though,” she assures. “We’re just taking a much-needed break.”

Since the beginning, their long-term goals have been to educate and empower the public, and reduce the demand for shelters. Ideally, they’d like to see less animals up for adoption altogether. They’d also like to see more responsible pet caretakers. Until then, Paw Jam is a way area residents can get involved with PAWS of NC to support the rescue groups that put in so much work protecting our four-legged family.

Everything about Paw Jam is solely organized by volunteers. Those wishing to help with this year’s event can call Best-Klingel at 232-1165.

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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