NWA Dogwalk supports area animal shelters

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 179 views 

Compassionate people and dog owners met up to exchange caretaking information and raise funds for local animal shelters at the Bentonville Bark Park Saturday morning.

The 2nd Annual NWA Dogwalk, a nearly three mile route began and ended at the Bark Park just off the trails in Bentonville, Ark. The walk was followed by a vendor fair showcasing pet products and services from local businesses, which included giveaways, drawings, music and games.

Proceeds from the event contributed to the services of five local animal shelters: Centerton Animal Shelter, Lone Pine Ranch Animal Shelter, Bella Vista Animal Shelter, Rogers Animal Shelter and the Humane Society for Animals in Rogers.

“We created the NWA Dogwalk because we wanted to benefit local shelters,” said Kristin Switzer, director of the NWA Dogwalk. “But we also wanted pet parents to know what resources are available to them and to be able to take their pets out in public.”

This year’s event brought approximately 40 dog owners to the event, which grew from 25 participants last year.

“The numbers aren’t strictly reflective, since some sign up when they get here and families come too, but I hope we double in size every year,” Switzer said.

A total of 15 vendors were present for the event, sporting products, showing off pets who need homes, discussing their services and generally enjoying the company of the canines and their owners. The vendor fair gave pet owners a chance to get to know the groomers and caretakers with whom they trust to take care of that special family member: their dog or cat.

Some vendors present were small business owners who started their service in their own homes. Doggie Heaven is one of those and remains in the home of Tammy and Steve Dengle. The Dengles created Doggie Heaven based on two needs: their need for a job that could fit easily with beginning to raise their daughter at home and other people’s needs.

“We had customers before we even opened it,” Tammy Dengle said, and that customer base has grown at a quickening pace in the years since. “The (unique) thing about our daycare is that they only see my face. Some businesses you see someone different every time you come in, but here, I’m the only one.”

The advantage of small businesses like Dengles is the personal, individual attention the dogs receive.

“I have other places who call and ask if I can take care of a troubled dog because they know I can handle that,” Dengle said. “And I have customers who can’t say my name around their dog because they get so excited…they’ll call me and say ‘he really wants to come by and see you today. Can we drop by for a few hours?’ and I’ll say, ‘yeah, bring him on over.’”

Other relatively new businesses pride themselves in not disrupting the pets’ routine.

“At ArkanPaws, we try to keep your routine as normal as possible,” said ArkanPaws employee Julie Jarrett. The business, which opened five years ago, includes services like brushing your pet, because, as the employees said, they don’t mind doing that while pet sitting.

Perhaps the most prominent feature provided is that the cost doesn’t vary based on the amount of pets, instead it’s a flat rate for the length of the visit. Gay Crosby, founder and owner of ArkanPaws handed out business-card sized “emergency” cards for your wallet. Pet owners fill in their personal contact information about your pet and a convenient contact who can act as caretaker in the event that you’re hospitalized or unable to take care of them.

The most noticeable trait of the NWA Dogwalk was the enthusiasm by people in the area for taking care of pets, whether it’s their own or not.

“People work here a long time,” said Christian Mott, employee at All Pets Hospital. “We have several who stay for 10 plus years. I’ve been here for three years and Amy (Knyzewski, Mott’s friend and coworker) has been here for seven.

“I’ll be in a room with a really cute (pet) and I’ll grab Amy from the front and say ‘You have to see this,’” Mott said. “I love working there. We just love the pets.”

Erin McCulloch is more evidence for that compassion. She volunteers her time to walk the dogs at the Humane Society of Rogers.

“Erin walks the dogs, which makes them more adoptable,” said Steve Carter of the Humane Society of Rogers. “You want a pet that’s used to being around other animals and that you can take out in public.”

The amount of pets without a home in Northwest Arkansas is growing and locals are doing their best to meet their needs. The Lone Pine Ranch Animal Shelter, an organization that runs entirely on volunteer efforts, has about 90 dogs up for adoption currently, said Kim Ross.

“We have 60 plus animals up for adoption right now,” said Rita Hafley of the Human Society for Animals. “It’s $50 to adopt an animal, and that (cost) includes spay/neuther service, all shots (with the exception of the rabies vaccination) and a free vet check-up.”

The laid-back summer event is planned to take place the first weekend of June each year and some Dogwalk participants are counting on it.

“We’re second-timers,” said dog owner Carolyn Liepins. “It’s a nice little walk and there’s a spot for them to swim, which is why they’re a little wet. We’ll be back again next year.”