People of Northwest Public Radio
Howling at Hamilton
Wed September 4, 2013
Animal Shelters Dive Into Fundraising
Dog day swims are becoming a popular way to raise money for animal shelters and chapters of the Humane Society around the country.
Animal fundraisers of any kind attract large crowds of pet owners and lovers. Moscow’s Howling at Hamilton saw almost 400 pooches during last year’s swim, and expects even more at this year’s event on September 8. The event lets canines have the pool all to themselves for the day. In addition to entry fees, funds are raised through toy sales and a dive contest. Even non-dog owners head to the Hamilton Lowe Aquatic Center just to watch the dogs splash and generally create pandemonium.
So how did these dog day swims come to be?
These events began five or six years ago, apparently popularized by word-of-mouth advertising. As humane societies and animal shelters heard about similar events in neighboring towns, they wanted to host their own. Cities are usually supportive.
An old Bark magazine story sparked the idea for the Humane Society of the Palouse. Managers took the idea to the city of Moscow and the Hamilton Lowe Aquatic Center, and found both supportive and eager to develop the idea.
It’s not all fun and games, though. Aquatic centers have to clean up the mess at the end of the day. But nobody seems to be complaining. Employees enjoy the day of doggy fun as much as the pet owners, and find the event a great way to interact with community. So, do the pools reap any of the benefits? That varies from place to place. The Asotin Aquatic Center in Clarkston, Wash. charges a cover fee for the Dog Days of Summer fundraiser, but all other proceeds go the Lewis Clark Animal Shelter. In Moscow, all proceeds of Howling at Hamilton benefit the Humane Society of the Palouse.
Organizers say they have not experienced any trouble between dogs. With over two hundred canines participating in past year's events, this is quite amazing. Pups run off leash, catch Frisbees and retrieve balls, and even show off their talents in various contests.
Other chapters of the Humane Society and animal shelters in the Northwest hold fundraisers which include animal participation. Both the Spokane Humane Society and the Humane Society for Seattle/King County host benefit walks. Spokane’s Parade of Paws is a rally (a choice of two or four miles) open to anyone and everyone, with pet or without. Seattle’s Walk for the Animals is a two mile dog-friendly walk that sees more than 1,000 participants each year. Along with the main event, Seattle’s humane society showcases pet contests, adoptions and giveaways.
Animals are usually so excited for these events that they practically pull their owners through the doors and jump right into the activities.