The paws were on patrol at Zona Rosa May 7 for the 10th Annual Woofstock festival for dogs and their people.
It is an event Linda Grandbouche never misses, though she usually brings a different pet every year. This year she brought two Australian shepherds belonging to a friend.
“Animals are my passion and I love my animals: my cats and my dogs,” Grandbouche said.
The sentiment was echoed by the people who gathered at this year’s event. Grandbouche is an animal rescue advocate, and, like many other people at the annual event, tries to support the Northland Animal Welfare Society (NAWS) in any way she can. She was among dozens who took to paw and foot for the event’s Decade Dash 5K Run and 1- mile Woof Walk.
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While the Woofstock event brings together dog lovers for a day full of dog-related events —including the walk/run, a doggie fashion and talent show and vendor fair — it also raises money to benefit NAWS.
NAWS operates a low-cost spay/neuter clinic in Gladstone that helps lower-income families spay or neuter and vaccinate their pets. It also has a food pantry to help people struggling to find the money to feed their pets.
NAWS president Goldie Arnold started the organization 10 years ago with a vision to help ease the suffering of homeless pets.
“It’s overwhelming how many strays and abandoned animals there are,” Arnold said. “We have a huge overpopulation pet problem in our community. Solving it starts with spay and neuter. If people will be responsible when they have their animals and get them fixed we will have a lot fewer animals and litters relinquished to shelters.”
Dogs were not always welcomed at Zona Rosa. An anti-pet policy was something General Manager Rosemary Salerno worked to change.
“It was real contradictory to me because we were developing a center that had parks and open spaces, but you weren’t allowed to have pets,” Salerno said.
After petitioning their corporate offices, Zona Rosa developed a pet-friendly policy. The first Woofstock event in 2007 was the shopping center’s first foray into welcoming pets on its grounds.
“What we’ve found over the years is that people who bring their pets out are responsible and it’s not a problem,” Salerno said.
Zona Rosa also helps host other fundraisers for NAWS throughout the year, including Critter Wrappers during the holiday season and Santa Paws for NAWS, which allows people to get their pet’s picture taken with Santa Claus.
The Woofstock event brings out about 1,000 people and hundreds of dogs each year. This year’s event raised over $14,000 to benefit the NAWS.