By John Hanley
“There are so many dogs out there that need a home.”
Ah, dogs. Man’s (or woman’s) best friend. From playful pups to seasoned vets, we love our canines to the point that we consider them part of the family. And being part of the family means doing everything together – in the case of this past Sunday, that means dressing up, running, and strolling along downtown Baton Rouge’s scenic roads.
Yelp Baton Rouge, a local non-profit no-kill dog rescue, held it’s fifth annual Yappy Halloween 5K and costume stroll Sunday morning. Participators dressed up their dogs and themselves, and either took a run or a walk to the State Capital and back, or just hung out with other dog-lovers in the community. Other attractions included Chris Pierce “The Balloon Man” and a BRPD K9 demonstration.
The event has been held these past five years to raise money for Yelp, as well as to raise awareness for the issue of overpopulation in shelters and the importance of adopting dogs. Yelp also hopes events like these can help to educate the public on the importance of spaying, neutering and keeping your dog healthy.
“We rely solely on donations,” said Yappy Halloween Coordinator Sheila Kimball, “The funds donated to Yelp provide for all the medical treatment for the dogs, including spaying/neutering, micro chipping, and vaccinating.”
The event has grown since its conception in 2009, starting fairly small and growing to over 400 participants for this year’s event. Several other groups also set up tents, including Marsh Dog!, 12 Paws Barkery, Petz Plaza, and other pet adoption and nanny services.
“There are so many dogs out there that need a home,” said Nely Ward, a runner in the Yappy 5K, and a member of LSU’s chapter of the CHAARG organization, which volunteered at this year’s event. “Having this benefit, with all of this money that [Yelp] is getting, they can give them food and water and everything they need to make sure they have a good place to stay until they find a home.”
Ward said the girls in CHAARG – a health and fitness organization for women – do one race per semester as a group, and they felt that the Yappy 5K was the best way to give back to the community.
“Yelp saw the need to have a large fundraiser to attract people and pets of all kinds in the area,” Kimball told DIG. “The smiles are priceless and the enthusiasm makes me so proud to be part of such a great event.”
Ward said she just adopted her dog from a shelter quite recently, while others, such as Molli Dutt (another member of CHAARG and 5K runner) have had their dogs for years.
“A lot of people buy from breeders, but they don’t realize how big the homeless dog population is,” said Dutt. She rescued her dog, Bella, from a bad situation, and plans to adopt from shelters in the future.
“That’s why Yelp is so important,” Dutt added, “because they are a no kill rescue. They need support from the community and events like these to continue saving dogs from being homeless or euthanized.”
Since its creation in 2009, Yelp!BR has helped save over 3,000 dogs through its no kill shelter. Yappy Halloween is their biggest fundraiser event of the year, taking six months to plan and organize, but Yelp also accepts donations and holds other fundraisers.
With their own dogs or without, event-goers – including myself – enjoyed making so many furry friends. The dogs enjoyed the open air and new faces as well, and overall, everyone seemed to enjoy coming together for a common cause.
For more information about how to adopt, foster, volunteer, or donate to Yelp, visit www.yelpbr.com.