This year marks the 31st anniversary of the Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County‘s annual Dog-A-Thon, happening June 20-26. It is the event’s second year going virtual due to COVID-19.

Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County Dog-A-Thon
Having pivoted to a digital platform for the very first time last year, here is a 2020 supporter showing some love to a furry friend. Photo courtesy: The Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County

The fun event began over three decades ago when a 10-year-old little girl named Tara decided to help raise money for the shelter with only 35 attendees, each donating $3 per dog. Now, the Dog-A-Thon has grown into one of the organization’s most important yearly fundraisers.

With several fundraisers throughout the year, Dog-A-Thon creates a unique opportunity for community members to get more involved and actively participate. Last year’s event raised $100,000, and this year’s goal is to raise $130,000.

Founded in 1888, the Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County is one of the largest animal welfare organizations in the state. It is one of the longest-running nonprofits to serve Pierce County and includes the city of Federal Way within its territory.

Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County Dog-A-Thon
On October 12, 1956, Janice Pender, age 8, held up dog tag #1, issued by the Pierce County Humane Society, for her Afghan Hound “Voodoo’s” approval. The Pierce County Humane Society, not officially recognized by the city, was offering free licenses to dogs under the age of six months. Photo courtesy: The Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County – Richards Studio D102163-4

Each year they care for over 10,000 animals, with funds received directly aiding in that care, whether for medical evaluations, surgery, recovery, or the adoption process.

This year, and throughout the pandemic, has been no different, with doors remaining open to continue the lifesaving work that goes on there every day.

More than that, it’s about each special animal’s unique story, and fortunately, many families who have taken advantage of their time at home to incorporate a pet into their lives, and by doing so, their continued support of the shelter.

“Every single one of those numbers is an animal, from one, to three, to 10,000,” says Director of Development and Marketing, Ashley Taulbee. “They each have their own individual story.”

Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County Dog-A-Thon
Daisy recovered successfully, and once she was ready for adoption, was quickly scooped up by a new forever family. Photo courtesy: The Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County

Meet Daisy. Daisy came to the shelter as a stray dog, along with a broken hip that had gone untreated for so long that it had become fused incorrectly. It was excruciating for Daisy, and the only remedy was for surgery to amputate the leg.

“Because of the donations made through fundraisers like Dog-A-Thon, we were able to provide Daisy with the medical treatment and surgery she desperately needed,” says Taulbee.

Daisy was able to recover with the aid of the Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County staff, and once she was ready for adoption, she was quickly scooped up by a new forever family.

Stories like Daisy’s are not uncommon. In fact, they are typical.

“Funding is so important for us because we need it to care for all the pets here,” says Taulbee. “When you really start to think about it, you know a dog named Daisy, and how big of an impact you can make on so many more like her, animals that are just desperate for care, you really begin to see the significance.”

The annual Dog-A-Thon, a single-day event typically held at Ft. Steilacoom Park when in-person, had over 1,000 attendees each year.

Having pivoted to a digital platform for the very first time last year, the organization is shaking things up a bit by holding a seven-day event rather than just one day.

Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County Dog-A-Thon
Participants show their support by walking at locations either at home or safely in public, with hashtag #dogathon2021. Photo courtesy: The Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County

With several fun ways to join in, Dog-A-Thon hopes to bring people and pets together as an online community within the virtual setting.

Besides daily Facebook Live video postings and fundraising updates, there are plenty of ways to interact. Several exciting activities, competitions, and challenges are planned, along with a chance to win prizes. Photo contests, like ‘funniest’ pet photo and returning favorite, ‘best photo fail’ are sure to get some laughs.

Participants can follow along and are invited to share photos on social media with stories of their own rescue pets with #dogathon2021. Anyone can show their support by walking either at home or safely in public. 

There will also be virtual tours of the shelter, located at 2608 Center Street, in Tacoma. Gain an inside look at some of the areas that are not often seen, like the kitten nursery and the bath brigade, where dogs needing medicated baths are accommodated.

A special spotlight will be shown upon some of the enrichment activities done with pets at the shelter and featuring many pets that are ready for adoption, like Toby and Harry.  

Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County Dog-A-Thon
Harry is available for adoption. Photo courtesy: The Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County

In the past, the face-to-face event featured a Vendor Village, filled with an assortment of pet-related merchants, groomers, vet clinics, and the like, as well as event sponsors and partners.

This year the group has created a virtual Vendor Village so patrons can continue to support those businesses and organizations. Many are offering special discount codes for goods and services, which can be found on individual websites.  

Registration is free. The peer-to-peer fundraising event makes it easy to connect friends and family via Facebook for support. Once a person registers and shares within the Facebook platform, anyone can donate to the cause.

“When you put it out there to the public that you are passionate about something, friends and family want to support your passions,” says Taulbee. “It’s an easy way to make a huge impact and a great opportunity for anybody who has been wondering how they can get involved. To be able to do so right from the comfort of their own home makes it easier than ever.”

Make an impact, adopt-a-pet, or help furry friends like Daisy, and so many others, by joining Dog-A-Thon 2021 and supporting the Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County.

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