by Dennis Dalman
The 25th annual “Woofstock Companion 5k Walk” will take place starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7 at Wilson Park in St. Cloud.
Registration will begin at 9 a.m., and food and festivities will take place from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
The annual event is the most important annual fundraiser for the Tri-County Humane Society, based in St. Cloud, which serves the needs of animals and owners in Stearns, Benton and Sherburne counties.
Teams of people will walk to raise money through pledges. Prizes will be given to the most successful fundraisers.
The event also features dozens of exhibitors who will set up informational booths within the park, along with food, games and animal demonstrations.
“Woofstock,” a canine pun on “Woodstock,” typically features owners and pets dressed up as “hippies” with tie-dyed clothing, bandannas, peace signs and other paraphernalia popularized by the massive music festival near Woodstock, New York, in 1969.
“This is our biggest fundraiser of the year, typically raising about $50,000 for the animals in our care,” said Vicki Davis, executive director of the Tri-County Humane Society. “It’s also one of our most nerve-wracking fundraisers because we never know how successful it will be until the day of the event – when all of the hard-earned donations you have helped us collect are turned in and added up. My faith is strong, however, that this will be one of our best walks in 25 years.”
The Tri-County Humane Society has been helping animals since it opened in 1974. Since then, it has made giant strides to help for homeless animals, pet adoption and widespread animal education.
The non-profit organization’s mission statement is “We believe in the human/animal bond, and we exist to support central Minnesota by practicing and promoting quality adoption service and education programs.”
The humane society has expanded its programs throughout the years. They now include off-site adoption programs (at pet-supply stores, for example), many outreach education programs at schools, ongoing care for impounded animals in the shelter, a policy of having every pet spayed or neutered and chip-implanted before adoption and many ongoing fundraisers to help cover the cost of the many services and programs. The organization is also a clearing house for information and advice on the care of animals.
Another function of the society was to offer courses on dog obedience, problem-solving and animal-tricks sessions. However, in 2010, the dog-obedience building was turned into a surgery facility for spaying and neutering animals.
A more recent project is the opening of the “For Pets’ Sake Thrift Store” in Waite Park from which sales proceeds go to help fund the society.
A common misconception about the humane society, said Davis, is that most of the animals in the shelter are strays. In fact, only about 15 percent are strays. Most are pets that have been surrendered for one reason or another, with the most common reasons being “moving, can’t afford to keep, not enough time for and allergies.”
Each year, an average of 4,500 animals find comfort at the Tri-County Humane Society. At any given time, there are from 75 to 100 animals available for adoption. The staff goes to great lengths to try to match pets to people’s specific lifestyles so that both owners and pets will be mutually happy.
Those who cannot attend the Woofstock 5k walk can still donate by going to the society’s website at: www.tricountyhumanesociety.org or by sending a check to “Tri-County Humane Society,” P.O. Box 701, St. Cloud, MN 56302.
The society is located at 735 8th St. N.E. in east St. Cloud. The phone number is 320-252-0896.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.