Baltimore makes the most of Strut Your Mutt

It was a day devoted entirely to the animals. On September 22, 2012, Strut Your Mutt opened in Baltimore, Maryland; hit St. Louis, Missouri, next; swept over Lafayette, Louisiana; sidled up to Salt Lake City, Utah; and rounded out the day in Los Angeles, California. This was the opening weekend for Strut Your Mutt, the fundraising and awareness tour de force that branched out to nine cities this year.

Strut Your Mutt in Baltimore, Maryland

People having fun at Strut Your Mutt in Baltimore
 

Greta Palmer, senior manager for national events at Best Friends, sets the scene in Baltimore: "When it was time to cut the ribbon and kick off the event, we were surrounded by a community of animal lovers. Our local sponsors showed up en masse and embraced the event 100 percent – on-air talent and staff from 98 Rock stretched out in our Downward Dog tent, along with the crew from Charm City Yoga, Paul Mitchell Schools students from our Ruff & Relax tent did an impromptu dance performance on our main stage, and the official mascots from the Orioles and Ravens held the start line ribbon for the hundreds of dogs waiting to strut. But the most inspiring sight was seeing the sea of orange T-shirts at the event, worn by our amazing team of dedicated volunteers who worked tirelessly for two days straight because they wanted to make a difference for the animals."

Raising money for homeless pets

Baltimore saw over 400 participants, and Lucky Dog Animal Rescue was the No More Homeless Pets Network partner fundraising leader with $6,661. The total amount of money raised for the participating groups in the area is over $19,000.

 People strutting with their dogs

"We are absolutely thrilled about the support we received by our Lucky Dog team," says Mirah Horowitz, executive director of Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. "What was especially wonderful was to see so many of our adopted Lucky Dogs out with their new families; it was a great reunion for us."

They plan on using half of the funds raised for their critical care fund to cover out-of-the-ordinary medical expenses for dogs like Tre, who was turned into the shelter with a horrible limp. Tre exemplifies the work that Lucky Dog does to help animals overcome health issues that can be costly. X-rays revealed he had undergone a botched surgery to repair a fracture, and Lucky Dog had to address the very real issue of having his leg amputated. Fortunately, he’s doing great now, and the money they made at the Strut will enable more "Tre"s to get the specialized care they require.

The other half of the money will be used to buy a van. The foster-based organization has grown so much in the last few years — they’ve currently rescued more than 4,800 dogs. Adding a reliable transport vehicle will enable them to do more good work. "We now need a van to be able to transport our supplies and dogs to those events and from the shelters to our foster homes. We are trying to raise $25,000 for the van, and our Strut Your Mutt funds are a great start."

Committed to the cause: Top fundraiser

Dog and his person at Strut Your Mutt
 

Rebekah Watson, top individual fundraiser, shares her tongue-in-cheek strategies for the event: "I totally bullied my friends and clients into donating to this event. They know that animals are so important to me." A cat and dog lover, Rebekah lives with an adorable pit bull terrier mix. She is adamant about assisting Best Friends in the long journey towards No More Homeless Pets.

Each city was supported by a volunteer event team, and Nini Ferguson was one of the volunteers in Baltimore who helped make Strut Your Mutt fly. In her eyes, the event can be summed up quite simply: "Everyone had fun, from the walkers to the vendors and the exhibitors, to the volunteers. The day was just wonderful, and I’m still taking everything in. It just all came together, and I couldn’t be more proud to be part of this community that values our companion animals as we have seen here in Baltimore."

With over 416 participants, including the volunteers, sponsors and exhibitors, the event’s total windfall was about $31,000 to help homeless pets. We couldn’t have done it without our local sponsors: Petco Foundation, Natural Balance, Petfinder.com, Halo, and Freekibble.com.

Attend an upcoming Strut Your Mutt walk.

Photos by David V. Starks and Gabriel DiMatteo