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Domer Doggie Walk promotes neutering

Sarah Mervosh | Sunday, October 11, 2009

About 60 dogs and their owners from the South Bend area participated in the fourth annual Domer Doggie Walk Sunday to raise money for low income people to spay or neuter their pets.

“It’s a great way to socialize and the campus is so pretty,” Ashley Walther from Mishawaka said. “I think it’s just a really cool thing … that they reach out to the public and try to help.”

Owners and dogs that participated paid a registration fee and also collected pledges in order to raise money to help stop animal overpopulation. The proceeds of the event went to the St. Joseph County Spay Neuter Assistance Program, Kay Stewart, faculty advisor for the Pre-vet and Proponents of Animal Welfare Service (PAWS) clubs said.

Mariah Covey of South Bend, who works for a local veterinary clinic, brought her dog to the walk in order to support the cause.

“There are so many unwanted cats and dogs in this area and with the economy, people who love their pets are having to give them up,” Covey said. “It’s just critical that people spay and neuter their pets.”

The money will go directly towards spaying and neutering animals in the area, for people who cannot afford to get their pets spayed or neutered because of the cost of surgery, Stewart said.

Surgery to spay or neuter depends on whether it is a dog or cat, and the size of the animal. It can cost anywhere from $20 for a male cat to $250 for a female dog.

There are 120,000 cats in St. Joseph county, and 40,000 are homeless, Stewart said.

“Our overall goal is to reduce the number of animals going into shelters because this area has a very large overpopulation of animals,” she said.

The Domer Doggie Walk, which is sponsored by the Biology Club, the Pre-vet Club and the Proponents of Animal Welfare Service (PAWS) club, began with a blessing of the animals.

“There was a little prayer and speech,” Covey said. “Just talking about St. Francis of Assisi and how animals are very important to our lives and how we need to remember that they are a part of us.”

The participants then went on a walk around campus. The dogs could try at a mini agility course with jumps and hoops, or enter in contests like best trick, owner-dog look-a-like or friendliest dog, Stewart said.

“We asked if there was an award for best behaved dog,” Pat Mooney of South Bend said with a laugh. “[My dog] was barking the whole time.”

There was also a raffle and pet-a-cures, where dogs could get their nails trimmed, Stewart said.

The event also provided an opportunity for community members to come onto campus and also interact with students.

“Last year with us being on South Quad, we had a lot of students coming in and interacting with the owners and the pets and just enjoying having dogs on campus,” she said.

Walther, who does not normally bring her dog on campus because it a little far form her home, said it was a nice change from her typical walking route.

“It’s nice because it’s got more nature and more people to interact with,” she said. “It’s fun to see all the dogs.”