Furry, four-legged companions offer comfort, warmth, and, let’s face it, they’re so darn cute. Their loyalty stands the test of time, and for most people, pets become like family. However, it’s easy to forget that cats and dogs are vulnerable and defenseless. Newspaper headlines are riddled with stories of abuse and neglect, and countless animals are caged in shelters, waiting to either be adopted or euthanized.
Combating the cruelty many of these helpless creatures suffer is no easy task; luckily, the strength and dedication of compassionate crusaders such as Jeannie Mintz, president of local nonprofit Saving Animals During Disasters (SADD), champion the needs of these animals. This Saturday, October 18, Carolina Beach Lake will come alive with activism as a host of vendors set up shop for the sixth annual Salty Paws Festival.
Though Mintz always has been involved with organizations that aim to ameliorate the lives of animals, it wasn’t until Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans in 2005 that she upstarted SADD. Much like the human residents of New Orleans, the animal population was immobilized, displaced and trapped in the storm’s horrific aftermath. Gross under preparedness made it difficult to get supplies into the city or shuttle the animals out of harm’s way.
Mintz, who worked with the affected animals in New Orleans and the ones lucky enough to be brought to Wilmington, set SADD into motion the day after Katrina tore through the city. She and others who came to aid the city were forced to get in and out very quickly because they had no place to stay. Consequently, they were unable to provide all the help necessary to remedy the situation. In order to solve the problem, Mintz created a disaster relief trailer, complete with air-conditioning, a back-up generator, electrical outlets, emergency lights, supplies, bedding, food, and a vet table.
“The trailers would go into a disaster loaded with supplies,” Mintz tells. “They would come out of the disaster, bringing animals back to the shelters. The idea is to get them moved out of the disaster area as quickly as possible.”
After finishing the trailer, Mintz was enlisted to help Guilford and Brunswick county to create their own trailers. Guilford County’s is a $53,000 unit and contains surgical cables. Mintz says another trailer is in the works.
Plus, the organization prioritizes microchipping. Folks will be able to get their pets Home Again International Microchips at the upcoming Salty Paws Festival for $30. “If any of these animals had been microchipped, it would have been so much easier to get them back to their owners and taken care of,” Mintz says.
While natural disasters pose a significant threat to animals, man-made travesties also top the list of issues that need to be addressed. Mintz advocates stronger laws against puppy mills, dog fighting, and abuse and neglect.
“It won’t matter if we have these laws if [officials] won’t get off their butts and enforce it,” Mintz says.“We’re beginning to see more [positive things] happen, but it needs to happen a lot faster.”
Spaying and neutering pets also is a key issue for the organization. Over the past year, they’ve begun focusing on feral cats, ensuring they are fixed and cared for. “The main thing is to try to get these animals, who have no help and are falling between the cracks, taken care of,” Mintz says.
Helping the animal population is no small task, so SADD maintains close relationships with other rescue nonprofits. Throughout the year, they distribute 90 to 110 tons of free food and treats to organizations such as Friends of Felines, Columbus County Humane Society, Duplin County Shelter, All 4 Cats, Paws Place, and others.
Mintz also opened a Salty Paws Thrift Shop in 2012, which carries home ware, decorative items, gifts, furniture, and more. All proceeds go toward helping animals in need. Since opening, the thrift store has doubled in size, from 2,000 to 4,200 square feet. They hold pet adoption events there as well. Mintz recently placed a German shepherd puppy, who had been shot in the leg and had to have it amputated. She also found a forever home for a chihuahua, whose owner had dementia and could no longer give ample care.
Mintz’s extensive work is supplemented by the annual Salty Paws Festival, which began in 2009 and takes place every October. “The town of Carolina Beach came to me and suggested we do it,” she says. “They were gracious enough to offer us the lake to use. It’s just the most perfect location because we have so much space—it could go on forever. It’s the perfect place to have the animals: lots of grass and the lake is there, the boats are there, and the whole lake is decorated.”
The festival hosts a slew of rescue nonprofits, such as Adopt an Angel, Paws Place, Brunswick and New Hanover County services, among others. It typically draws a crowd of 3,000 to 3,500 people. This year over 62 vendors will be involved—more than double the turnout from the first festival. They will be there collecting donations, and some will have pets available for adoption.
“We do not charge any of the rescue nonprofits or any nonprofits to be involved,” Mintz says. “We encourage them to try to sell items and get donations. The way we look at it is if they have made the money themselves, it saves us from making the money for them and distributing it.”
Adding to the festivities will be food vendors, live music, and a wine and beer garden. Folks can enter a raffle, which has $3,000 worth of prizes. Attendees also can sign up their pets for the Doggy Lotto, which offers a $100 grand prize.
The costume competition will return this year; first place will win $100. Past entries have included a greyhound dressed as a Greyhound bus and a girl dressed as a ninja turtle with her teacup Yorkshire terrier attached to the front of her costume. “You just never know what everybody’s going to come up with!” Mintz says.
Salty Paws Festival
Carolina Beach Lake
Saturday, October 18, 11 a.m.