By Leila Dycus intern
On Saturday March 22 community members came together to participate in Bark for Life, which was put on by the American Cancer Society and the Humane Society of Morgan County (HSMC) to raise money to fight against cancer.
This year’s event was held at Heritage Park from 10a.m. to 2p.m. Relay for Life events are known for there help in raising money to fight cancer. This year’s Bark for Life event allowed community members to raise money along side their canine companions. “This year’s Bark for Life was so family oriented, everybody could come and stay all day if they wanted to and there was plenty to do,” said Humane Society of Morgan County director Belinda Bell.
Bell explained the importance of dogs and cats in cancer patients’ fight against their illnesses. Many times these warriors are stuck at home sick with their only companions being their beloved pets.
For a second year, two Morgan County charities came together to honor these fighters and their caregiving animals. “Bark for Life is an event to honor your caregiver with four legs along with being a family event with doggy demos and contestants,” said event organizer and cancer survivor Beth Bradley. When participants and their four-legged companions entered the park, volunteers greeted them and registered their pets. Those who had preregistered for the day were given bags filled with treats for both humans and dogs including a Bark for Life T-shirt and a bandana for the pups. “We actually did better this year, and we were really excited,” said Bell. Saturday’s benefit raised over $2,000, which will be spilt evenly between the organizations.
Bell went on to say that the money that goes to the Humane Society will be a huge help with medical expenses for pets, caring for the animals and general needs that it takes to run the center. Bradley kicked off the 2014 Bark for Life event with some opening remarks and a special poem. A prayer was said, and the Greene County ROTC raised the flag while participants joined in singing the National Anthem. Just like at Relay for Life events, survivors and caregivers were able to take victory laps around the track. After the ceremony laps, others joined in to walk the track. Lake Oconee’s Dock 103.9 played music as people visited the various other aspects of the event.
“We saw a lot of our adopted dogs, which was really exciting,” said Bell. The Humane Society of Morgan County (HSMC) brought out some of their current residents in hopes that they would be adopted. Celia Horvath, HSMC staff member, had a booth set up to take pictures of families and their canines, UGA vet students provided nail clips for the dogs, and the Scoops ice cream truck provided sweet treats for humans and dogs. Attendees were able to enjoy hamburgers and hot dogs cooked up by HSMC volunteers.
The “Relay Queens” pulled raffle tickets through out the day as participants won a number of different items from picture frames to free dry cleaning. Duke and Brad Vaughn of the Morgan County Sheriff Department did a demonstration on narcotics searches. Cindy Wiemann from the City of Madison Animal Control taught about heat and your dog. Mary Leslie gave a demo on search dogs and dog trainer Linda Lethbridge of HSMC did a presentation on dog training.
“The doggy contests involving everyone stood out to me as the crowd had the most fun with it,” said Bradley. At 12:30 p.m., participants were invited to enter their dogs in various contests. Best trick went to a patty cake playing Boston terrier named Mazey and a Papillion who sat up like a squirrel named Teddy.
A dog named Bane won the obedience category and a chocolate colored terrier mix named Teddy won the best dancer contest. Mazey was named the oldest dog and terrier Teddy was named the youngest.
Owner dog look a like category went to Charlie, a former HSMC resident, and his family of owners dressed in tie-dye. Lulu and Hannah Bell won the coveted best costume for their Relay for Life purple tutus. The Relay Queens awarded each of the participating dogs and their families with medals and trophies to celebrate their accomplishments. The day wrapped up with a demonstration by David Burk who brought many of his reptiles including a giant snake and an alligator.
“The community came together to support two very important charities in Morgan County and had a lot of fun doing it,” said Bradley. “We cannot wait until next year!” The Morgan County Relay for Life will be held on May 9 at DuPree Track, opening ceremonies begin at 6 pm. The HSMC is also busy gearing up for their Rabies and Shot clinic coming at the end of April.