By Susan Spisak
Wow, 2022 flew by—it’s hard to believe it’s 2023! Now is a good time to reflect on the past year and honor the dedicated animal lovers who worked to not only raise funds for their nonprofits but have much-needed fun too. When all that is said and done, we can look forward to penciling in their 2023 annuals and new fundraising events on our calendars!
May 21st was the Annual Mutt Strut for Kennebec Valley Humane Society (KVHS) at Augusta’s Youth Memorial Park & Buker Community Fields. Participants were provided a fundraising page to be shared with friends and family, and the more funds they raised, the more prizes they won. There were demonstrations from Maine Canine Company and Merrill’s K9 Academy, pool doggie party time, games, and canine treat stations. They extended the day with an “After Party” at Quarry Tap Room for humans and canines. Melanie Randall, the Director of Development for KVHS, said it was a success. “This year the Mutt Strut raised $23,000 and had over 100 participants for our event.”
KVHS MUTT STRUT PHOTO BY DAVE DOSTIE
The SPCA of Hancock County in Trenton held the popular 2022 Wine & Whiskers Gala on July 26th at the Bar Harbor Club. The SPCA supporters came through and this event raised over $100,000. The SPCA also held the 4th Annual Howl-O-Run 5k in October. With 80+ runners, this event raised over $10,000. "We are always grateful for the continued generosity of our supporters. Not only are these events crucial, but they are also a great way to further connect with our community outside of the shelter," said Nicole Rediker, Executive Director of the SPCA of Hancock County.
“Woofstock is southern Maine's only pet-friendly, family-friendly food and beer festival, held right on the grounds of Animal Welfare Society in Kennebunk,” said their Marketing Communications Manager, Stephanie Kelley. The annual festival was free for attendees, held in July and had live tunes, local craft brews in a beer garden, food trucks, games, kid's activities, dog agility courses, raffles, vendors, giveaways, and much more. All profits from sponsors, donations, beer and raffle purchases supported funding of veterinary care for animals. “It’s always a hit, and next year’s date has already been announced – July 29, 2023,” Stephanie added.
PAWS Animal Adoption Center in Camden has many events throughout the
year, including the always fun Maine Wienerfest, 2 Gold Tournaments, and
they end with the Tinsel Tails Gala. A new addition to their event repertoire was the 1st Annual Poker Paddle on Sunday August 20 at Megunticook Lake. All
participants, including DEDN’s editor Jenn Rich, recreationally
paddled around the lake and could stop at 1 or all the stops to build
the best poker hand. PAWS volunteers were stationed along the way to
assist and hand out cards. The winning hand won a gift card to Maine
Sport Outfitters and a custom-made commemorative paddle, while the runner up
hand received a gift card to Northport’s Outdoor Sportsman.
WIENERFEST PHOTO BY DEBRA BELL
Portland Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Care, PVESC, hosted the Annual Pet Rock in the Park on Sunday, August 28th at Deering Oaks Park from 11am to 4 pm. It was a free pet-friendly event in Portland that featured live bands, pet rescues and shelters, food trucks, pet vendors, animal demonstrations, amazing raffle prizes and more, all to raise money for cancer research in companion animals. “The doctors at PVESC would like to thank the technicians and staff who make supporting these great events possible,” added Bryan Oliver, their Marketing Manager. In addition to this park event fundraiser, PVESC also hosted all-important continuing education dinner events for veterinarians and veterinary staff from all over Maine, to share valuable information.
Things are always popping, event wise, at the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland aka ARLGP. One of their unique fundraisers this year was the 2022 Shelter Sleep-In in November where they pitted sixteen contestants against each other to raise the most funds utilizing friends, family, colleagues, and social media. Contestants included ARLGP volunteers and admin folks, adopters, and community and media members. The grand finale was on November 18, and each contestant slept in a theme-decorated dog kennel, cat colony, or small animal room with a shelter pet. It was an incredible success and raised an astounding $102,919.
Pope Memorial Humane Society in Thomaston were the recipients of $18k raised at Southend Grocery’s Ugly Sweater Party on November 19. It was a special night as the event was in memory of the store’s founder and Pope Memorial’s long-time supporter, Steve Hiller. “I can tell you that with the addition of this year's Ugly Sweater Party, the Hiller family/Southend Grocery have raised over $40,000 over the years,” said Kasey Bielecki, Marketing and Public Relations Manager. Earlier in the year, Pope also held the repeat fav, Bark + Brew in the Barn, at Harmony Hill Farm in Warren. Another memorable time that benefited the pets! These are just two of their endeavors.
Shannon Nachajko, founder of Catahoula Rescue of New England, is very hands-on with her events. She offers regular canine mani-pedi’s around the area (see facebook.com/CatahoulaNewEngland/events). Shannon also crafts etched glassware, think wine glasses and pint glasses, and sells them at Pet Rock in the Park and other craft shows. She makes and sells bandanas and t-shirts at Pet Quarters in Rockland. And supporters post birthday fundraisers for her nonprofit on her Facebook page. (facebook.com/CatahoulaNewEngland/fundraisers)
Bangor Humane Society, like all these nonprofits, are always raising monies to support their cause. October was a big month for Bangor. On October 1, they celebrated their 29th Paws on Parade at Husson University from 9 am to noon. Wag Bags, t-shirts, prizes, and raffles made attendees with their canines happy and so did the booths of vendors, photographers, and the puppy parade, too. “This year’s event raised $45,000 for the animals of Bangor Humane Society,” said Kathryn Ravenscraft, their Director of Development & Communication. Check their website for all 2023 events and be sure to attend the 30th annual Paws on Parade.
Fetching Hope Rescue leaned into Halloween this year! The Bark Bash was held October 23 at Batson River Fish Camp in Wells. They had door prizes, raffles for gift baskets, and a print by local artist Dennis Rafferty, as well as a costume contest. Director Alissa Laitres said the Bark raised $265. “We also raised $544 at the Xota Brewin Co.’s Pints for Pups event on September 23rd.”
Don and Paula Hanson own the full-service Green Acres Kennel Shop in Bangor, which offers boarding, daycare, grooming, training classes, and behavioral consultations for canines and felines. Pet lovers Don and Paula host many beneficial activities year-round including the 15th Annual Furry Friends Food Bank (FFFB) online fundraiser that ran from November 27th thru December 31st. The FFFB is a program of the non-profit Eastern Area Agency on Aging (eaaa.org/furry-friends-food-bank/). It helps low-income seniors in Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis, and Washington counties feed their pets. It is also one of the favorite non-profit charities of the Green Acres Kennel Shop and ForceFreePets.com.
Heidi and Joel Neal of Rockland, owners of the six Loyal Biscuit Co. Pet Boutiques, support animal nonprofits year-round. Their Fenway Fund, named after their beloved dog and Loyal Biscuit Co logo, also awards grants to support animal welfare within Maine communities by providing seed money for projects that will help better the lives of animals that often fall below funding. Since 2019, they’ve donated over $75k to local organizations including the 2022 recipients with varying amounts/needs: Misfits Rehab, Mission Working Dogs, Charley’s Strays, PAWS Animal Adoption Center, The Humane Society of Waterville Area, and the SPCA of Hancock County. In addition, their annual Howl-i-day fundraiser has provided more than 50,000 pounds of food to several shelters throughout the state of Maine.
One final endeavor to note. You likely heard of the #Betty White Challenge that went viral after her passing, just weeks prior to her 100th birthday. Betty was a huge advocate for animals, and this campaign urged folks to pay tribute to the celebrity by donating to a local animal rescue in her honor. Reportedly $12.7 million was raised via Facebook and Instagram by more than 390k people. DEDN reached out to many of Maine’s rescues on their participation, and it’s estimated that about $150k was donated to this campaign. These gifts will impact the lives of animals in need, and Betty would be delighted!