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Culpeper's Bark in the Park features furry friends and pet parents
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Culpeper's Bark in the Park features furry friends and pet parents

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A local nonprofit dedicated to helping control the pet population held an animal-friendly event this past weekend in Yowell Meadow Park.

An estimated 150 to 200 people braved rainy weather to attend the first-ever “Bark in the Park” event Saturday in support of Culpeper-based Jadie Bug & Tobster Foundation.

Founder and President Cassidy Dugan created the foundation in late 2018 after parting ways with an animal rescue organization and deciding to make a difference on her own.

She named the effort after some beloved pets that passed away.

Dugan described the foundation as “a shelter-diversion program” that aims to prevent pets from entering shelters in the first place.

“First and foremost—spay and neuter—so there are not unwanted litters ending up in shelters,” Dugan said on Tuesday of getting to the root of the problem.

Since forming, the foundation has provided hundreds of free procedures in Culpeper, around Virginia and for pet owners in 14 other states. Jadie Bug & Tobster Foundation also helps with pet food purchases. And it’s not just for dogs and cats—the foundation has helped hamsters and horses, too.

“If families get laid off or with COVID they lost their job and are struggling to put food on the table, they are not going to be able to afford food for their pets,” Dugan said. “So we supply pet food in order to keep them afloat.”

It doesn’t always work out that a family can keep their pet, even with assistance, so the foundation will work to find an adopter, rescue group or foster family to keep that animal out of the shelter.

“People don’t see what really happens to all of these pets,” Dugan said.

More than 1,500 pets are euthanized daily in the U.S. in shelters, she said; the ASPCA estimates that number as higher, with 1.5 million shelter animals put down annually.

“The average person never really sees that, but many pets that enter those shelter doors never come back out,” Dugan said.

Any pet owner—from Maine to Florida and in between—that has asked for help so far has not been turned down, she said.

The foundation, in addition, is a pet food bank partner with PetCo and in that capacity, donates half of the food it receives monthly to the Culpeper Humane Society. All of the good work is based on donations.

Saturday’s event in the park raised around $3,300 to continue that worthy effort.

Plus, it was a nice opportunity, in spite of the weather, for folks to get out of the house with their four-legged friends, Dugan said. Various local businesses sponsored Bark in the Park and several vendors set up tables. There was a silent auction, face painting, doggie treats and the chance to stroll around.

Event participant Ken Nunnekamp with the Culpeper Humane Society said their group was thrilled to be part of the first Bark in the Park.

“We were so excited to see the turnout despite the pouring rain in the morning,” he said. “It was heartwarming to see the dozens of dogs and people turn out.”

Dugan is already planning for next year’s gathering to be held Sept. 18, 2021, in possibly a different Culpeper location. She said the inaugural event turned out better than expected, even with the gray day.

“At this point in time because of everything going on, it was a way to bring the community together, get people out of the house and raise money to help people and their pets,” Dugan said.

She has one dog, Fern, a French bulldog mix, after losing another canine friend this past summer. Dugan said she is actively looking to adopt a second dog, but will probably foster some from the Humane Society in the meantime.

For information, see jbtfoundation.org, Jadie Bug & Tobster Foundation on Facebook or call 202/670-0820.

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