Pet owners strut their stuff with their mutts at fund-raiser

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 17, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Talk for just a few minutes to pet owners who participated in Saturday’s Mutt Strut, and it will become clear why they chose to rise so early and trek to the Humane Society fund-raiser.

After all, many met some of their closest companions at a shelter. Take Tim Willis, for example, who found black lab Jelly Bean at just such a facility.

&uot;I went up to the cage and she poked her nose out of the case and licked me,&uot; Willis said. &uot;I said, ‘Yeah. I’ll take one.’ She looked just like a little jelly bean.&uot;

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Or consider Tracy Henry, who saw Patch in the newspaper during a Humane Society promotion and adopted him for her daughters for Valentine’s Day.

&uot;I didn’t want another dog at first, but Š well Š he was just irresistible,&uot; Henry said. &uot;And he’s great with the girls. Even goes down the slide with them.&uot;

So perhaps it’s no surprise that when the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society called, they &045; and their canine companions &045; came running.

On Saturday morning, more than 60 dogs and their owners gathered at the gazebo on the Mississippi River bluff to strut their stuff at the Main Street Mutt Strut.

The event, a renewal of one of the Humane Society’s most popular fund-raisers, was originally set for May 17 but was rained out that day.

Although final totals weren’t available as of Saturday night, the event was held to raise funds for operation of the Humane Society, which gets half of its budget from donations.

Linda Harper, secretary of the Humane Society’s board, helped sign up pets and their owners for the event but said other volunteers did most of the work.

Those include Mary Ruth Caldwell, Ralph Payne and Kristine Wiley of Leadership Natchez and Tammi Mullins of the Natchez Downtown Development Association.

&uot;It gives shelter volunteers a break, because we’re begging 24/7,&uot; Harper said. &uot;When we take (animals) in, we vaccinate, worm them and feed them, and it gets expensive.&uot;

Once everyone was signed up, pets and their owners walked up Main Street to Memorial Park for games and contests.

Those included a &uot;find a bone&uot; game and contests for the cutest dog, ugliest dog, best singer and winners in other categories.