SEQUIM — A Sequim nonprofit is hoping fellow canine advocates are willing to raise those paws — this year, virtually — to help care for and house dogs in need.
Board members of Welfare for Animals Guild, which has placed more than 1,800 dogs into local homes since its inception in 2001, made the decision in the early spring to cancel DogtoberFest, its biggest annual fundraiser.
The popular community event would sell out each year and bring in about $35,000 each year, said Deb Bemm, a board director with Welfare for Animals Guild (WAG).
“We discussed it and just couldn’t imagine putting 200 plus people in one place,” she said.
Instead, the nonprofit is hosting a “Different Kind of DogtoberFest 2020.”
The virtual fundraiser asks WAG supporters to consider purchasing “non-tickets” at $50 each — the price of a regular ticket had WAG been able to hold the event — and/or a “non-table,” which normally seats eight, for $400.
“While this ticket may not include a seat at a lovely dinner, it will help provide dinner, medical attention, and much more for those dogs that come to WAG for love and care,” WAG representatives said in a newsletter.
Those who buy a “non-ticket” are eligible to win one of two “Supporting Clallam County” gift packages that include restaurant and shopping gift cards to local businesses affected by recent events.
“Our goal (for this year’s fundraiser) is just to whatever the community would like to do to support us,” Bemm said.
WAG officials are also hoping supporters will recreate the “Raise the Paw” section of the DogtoberFest event in which all are given the opportunity to raise their paddle in support of a specific aspect of WAG’s work. This year’s focus, Bemm said, is seniors dogs.
WAG has seen an uptick in the number of senior dogs surrendered to the organization, a trend not related to the COVID-19 issue, Bemm noted.
“They’re just as wonderful as the young ones,” she said of WAG’s senior dogs, “but there are expenses that go along with them.”
The drawing is set for Saturday, Oct. 24, DogtoberFest 2020’s originally scheduled date.
While the event is canceled for this year, WAG’s work of rescuing, rehabilitating and adopting continues, Bemm noted— with some changes. The organization is on a “skeleton crew” right now, she said, with WAG volunteers coordinating to work on same shifts and having limited contact.
A number of projects are on hold right now, Bemm said, such as a plan to build a room for a dog who’ll likely not be adopted.
Since mid-March, when social and physical distancing guidelines from COVID-19 and many local residents began working from home, WAG has seen a steady adoption rate, Bemm said, including the adoption of seven Husky puppies.
“At the beginning it was a lot of people who were going to home for a while,” she said. “Now it’s people who know they are going to be home for a while.”
Welfare for Animals Guild receives surrendered dogs in a number of ways, from unplanned life situations to over-populated shelters to strays. Prior to adoption, rescue animals are spayed/neutered, receive vaccines, are micro-chipped and have other medical needs addressed. The dogs either live in private homes or at the Half Way Home Ranch, located just south of Old Olympic Highway, until they are adopted.
WAG officials said the organization’s veterinary bills total about $40,000 each year.
For more information or to donate, visit wagsequim wa.com or call 360-460-6258.
Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].