Family-friendly festival to benefit the four-legged

When Karen Coll learned 12,000 animals are euthanized in the Charlotte area each year, she wanted to do something to make a difference. So, she enlisted the help of volunteers, local shelters and businesses and organized the inaugural Save a Paw Day two years ago.

The third annual Save a Paw Day will support local rescue groups and no-kill shelters, provide education for pet owners and more.

The third annual Save a Paw Day will support local rescue groups and no-kill shelters, provide education for pet owners and more.

Now in its third year, Save a Paw Day will return to south Charlotte on Saturday, May 17, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Camp Bow Wow, 8635 Crown Crescent Court. The event serves as a fundraiser to support local rescue groups while also promoting animal adoption opportunities and fighting animal abuse and euthanasia.

“My goal is to (fill) that gap in the bridge between the community and businesses and rescue groups,” Coll said. “We want to outline the tremendous need that the rescue groups have.”

Event goers will have the chance to meet representatives from 12 dog and cat rescue groups from across the Carolinas, learn more about these groups’ efforts and make financial contributions. People also are encouraged to bring dog and cat food for area no-kill shelters.

Save a Paw Day raised $700 for rescue groups and collected 1,000 pounds of food for local, no-kill shelters in its first year, and last year’s event raised nearly $2,000 and collected 5,000 pounds of food. Coll said the goal for this year is to double the numbers from Save a Paw Day 2013.

The money raised is split evenly between the participating rescue groups. Organizers carefully review the rescues before including them in the fundraiser.

“We hand-pick the rescue groups,” Coll said. “We want to make sure they’re a nonprofit and that all the money goes to the animals. All those invited have to agree and follow our guidelines.”

Though a big part of Save a Paw Day revolves around fundraising, the event also offers education and resources for current and prospective pet owners. Spay Neuter Charlotte will provide microchipping and rabies vaccinations “for a minor fee” during the event as well as information on the importance of spaying and neutering pets.

Rescue groups will not offer same-day adoptions during the event, but people can meet some of the animals and learn more about the adoption application process.

“That’s our goal, too. We want to educate the public (and say), ‘Don’t go buy a puppy dog from a pet store – let’s go to the rescue groups,’” Coll said.

Save a Paw Day is organized with a festival-type atmosphere. Vendors will be on hand selling food, and there will be a number of family- and pet-friendly activities throughout the day including the Poodle Hula-Hoop Challenge and Hound Dog Sack-Hop Race for the two-legged and a Cutest Pet Contest for the four-legged, with prizes for the winners. The event also will feature a bounce house, training demonstrations by Turbo Paws, live music, face painting, “tattoos” for children and raffles throughout the day.

“We do have the education part of it, as well, but we try to make it fun so that everybody can come out,” Coll said.

Though she can’t save every animal, Coll believes the work she and others are doing through Save a Paw Day will put a huge dent in the problem of pervasive euthanasia.

“I cannot rescue every single animal – that’s not possible, but I can honor what (these groups) already have going on,” she said. “… That’s the most important part. Let’s help our rescue groups and get some of these animals their forever homes.”

Find more information including a schedule of events at www.saveapawday.com.

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