Shelter dogs at Pembina Valley Humane Society got their chance to celebrate as the shelter held their first annual Dogust on August 1.
Dogust was started by an animal shelter in New Jersey that decided that shelter pets deserved to have a day to celebrate their own birthdays.
“Pets are a member of somebody’s family,” PVHS public relations chair Holly Thorne said. “You celebrate your mother’s birthday, you celebrate your son’s birthday, but what about the pet that you adopted from the shelter? You don’t necessarily know when that pet had a birthday.”
Thorne said people will often guess or choose the day the pet was adopted, but Dogust gives every shelter pet a universal birthday to celebrate.
“I got wind of that and I thought this is a really cool way to not only get the dogs out, get dogs socialized but raise awareness for what it is that we do here at the Society as well,” Thorne said.
Thorne said the event went incredibly well. “There were people that were here even before we opened the gates,” she said. “It’s really promising to see the amount of people that are here, the amount of people who are here with their dogs.”
Thorne said she was happy to see so many people bringing their kids to the event as well. “That’s fantastic because you start the kids young,” she said. “You educate them on the proper ways to raise a pet, proper ways to protect them, spaying and neutering… that’s going to raise a generation of kids that can pass it on to their kids.”
“Hopefully there will come a time when we never actually need a shelter because it’s just what people do,” she added.
The event raised over $1,000 for PVHS.
“We didn’t come into this with any goals because we had never done it before,” Thorne said. “We expected maybe a few people to come by, they’d bring a dog… the response that we’ve gotten has been amazing.”
Thorne said the event surpassed all of their expectations. She said they hope to continue Dogust next year.
Morden Mayor Brandon Burley said the first organization he toured after being elected was PVHS. He said he brought his daughters, and the experience ended with them taking home a dog of their own.
“The City of Morden is very grateful for the volunteers that work so hard and so diligently at providing homes for less fortunate dogs,” he said. “If the city was required to provide an SPCA program on our own it would cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. We recognize the value of what [PVHS does].”
As usual, Thorne said the biggest challenge facing the shelter over the summer is filling volunteer positions.
“With summer holidays, regular shifts don’t necessarily get covered because people go on holidays and we don’t have enough volunteers to go around,” she said. “Things have been going but if we were able to get even a few more volunteers to be able to come out and help us with things like cat chores or public shift… I know that we’d be able to streamline things a lot better.”