Humane Society hosts Bark in the Park held in Alabaster

By DONNAMY STEELE | Special to the Reporter

ALABASTER – Shelby Humane Society hosted its 14th annual Bark in the Park event on Saturday, Nov. 7.

Leeangela Garate said the event was one of many projects the shelter has been diligently working on. Bark in the Park was originally hosted by Shelby Humane, but its auxiliary group called Best Friends of Shelby Humane took the reins for a few years.

This year, Shelby Humane hosted it in an attempt to reestablish their goals within the community amidst the pandemic.

“We usually do an adoption event, a clinic, and have a few vendors,” Garate said. “Shelby Humane is rebranding for lack of a better term. The reason why is we want to be considered a resource for the community, but also it’s not just adoptions for us. We chose Bark in the Park this year to invite other organizations.”

Bark in the Park was a kickoff event for what is to come in the near future as Shelby Humane plans to continue collaborating with local nonprofits with the same goal, animal welfare.

“We determined that we wanted to have it more as a festival this year. The pandemic truly affected a lot of other organizations because they depend on fosters and events with retailers like PetSmart and Petco and things like that, but the pandemic limited those opportunities,” Garate said. “So, we wanted to come together in the community with the same goal, which is animal welfare.”

Education in regards to animal welfare and having a positive impact on the pet population is a message that Garate is passionate about.

“We want to educate and work together so that we can have a positive impact on the pet population, provide education in regards to vaccinations, and pet retention,” Garate said. “Instead of immediately thinking people have to surrender their pet, we find ways to help them keep their pet. It can be as simple as needing more training or help with vaccinations, or even heartworm prevention. If they have a senior pet that requires more health care, we look for ways to help them with that.”

Shelby Humane had a successful turnout at the event with almost 400 people in attendance. Three dogs were adopted at the event and over $2,000 was raised for the shelter, according to Garate.

“The gist of it for Bark in the Park is it’s an opportunity for us to come together as an animal welfare organization to join other groups,” Garate said. “They could attend, recruit fosters at the event, and it was well attended. We had food trucks and different vendors as well as other nonprofit organizations. The pandemic has affected adoption events and fundraising opportunities, so this was a large event for us where we tried to do a lot of fundraising. It wasn’t a huge fundraiser for us, but every little bit helps.”

Shelby Humane decided not to have their vaccine clinic at the event this year, Garate said. Instead, the shelter has been providing pop-up low-cost vaccine clinics each month throughout the county.

“We decided not to have the vaccine clinic because we have vaccine clinics each month, so we are trying to spread them out throughout the county,” Garate said. “They are affordable and we have another coming up in Pelham on the 14th.”

Four local rescue organizations and two animal welfare organizations joined in on the event, Garate said. The Pelham Pet Pantry, the Animal League of Birmingham, Adopt a Golden of Birmingham, Feral Dogs of Avondale Mill of Sylacauga, 2 by 2 Rescue, and Dixie Girl Dog Rescue were in attendance.

“This event was a kickoff to us being a huge part of the community. We want to be a good neighbor and partner,” Garate said. “We look to the animals to be the bridge or facilitate that because so much can happen through the education and love of a cat or dog and we share that in common. To have different nonprofits so we can all work together, it was a great day, and we hope to have more events like that in the future. It’s an exciting time to be in Central Alabama and to be working towards some common goals.”