If you have a pet, chances are there’s something about them that tugs at your heartstrings, makes you proud or makes you laugh. Whatever it is, Save Our Animal Rescues invites you to show off your best friend — and maybe win a prize or two — at its Every Pet is Perfect Parade and Show, from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18, at Sweet Briar College. This is a rain or shine event; indoor facilities at the riding center are available in case of rain.
The event is a fundraiser for SOAR, a nonprofit organization in Amherst County that raises money to help pets in need of medical care.
Gates open at noon. Show categories include great kisser, funniest trick, special smile, biggest bark, longest tail, grand hairdo, most spots and best dressed. Entry fees are $10 for the parade only or $20 for both events. Registration is requested by Aug. 9 at facebook.com/EveryPetisPerfectShow or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. All pets are welcome, but must be controlled by their owners and properly vaccinated. Proof of rabies vaccination is required at entry.
“Celebrity judges,” including WSET ABC 13 senior news anchor and managing editor Noreen Turyn, Dr. Beth Luzaich of Amherst Veterinary Hospital and Anthony Robinson of Anthony and Company Spa & Salon, will help keep things entertaining in the unlikely event there is a pause in the zaniness. And the fun isn’t limited to the competition.
There will be a water park for the animals, agility demonstrations, a microchip station and demonstrations by professional animal trainer Miriam Fields-Babineau. For anyone thinking about getting a pet, area Humane Societies and rescue organizations will have animals available for adoption.
SOAR founder and director Amy Napior hopes the inaugural event will become the biggest yearly fundraiser for the organization, adding to its Santa Paws photo shoot in December. Since 2011, SOAR has worked with local veterinarians and the rescue community to treat injured, sick or abused animals so they can be adopted or to keep them out of shelters and in homes with owners who love them but cannot afford the vet bill.
For otherwise adoptable animals, the cost of treatment “can be the difference between life and death,” Napior says.
Requests for funding can come from animal control or the Humane Society of Amherst County, which have limited budgets for medical treatment. Individuals can apply through a veterinarian. Owners sometimes choose to surrender their pets because they don’t have the means to care for them. HSAC does everything it can for all the animals it takes in, but without community resources, some will be euthanized.
“People often don’t realize how much an animal costs. Actually now, most of my business comes from low-income people,” says Napior, who is getting more individual requests as word about SOAR spreads.
SOAR works with four area veterinary practices to help determine eligible clients and to ensure the animals’ welfare. Pet owners are asked to consult with a vet, who will refer the case to SOAR if appropriate.
Napior, who also serves on the HSAC board, is trying to expand SOAR’s service area to include nearby counties. Sick or well, the population of homeless animals in Central Virginia is too much for local shelters to absorb. Fortunately, many of them will find homes — often in another state.
Since about 2006, HSAC has worked with a group of rescuers in New Jersey to send dogs and cats north for adoption. Vans leave from the shelter most Saturdays loaded with transports from Amherst and neighboring counties for Northeastern states where demand for adoptable pets exceeds the homeless population.
But they have to be well to make the journey. That was enough for WSET’s Turyn to sign up for judging duty.
“I like to support anything that deals with rescuing animals, it is very close to my heart,” says the veteran broadcaster and “proud momma” of Cadbury, a rescue from the Lynchburg Humane Society.
“They can be so vulnerable and obviously have no voice and I commend all the organizations that work so hard to find homes for abandoned, stray or confiscated animals, where they will get the love, respect and attention they deserve.”
Cadbury is her first dog and she admits she “never knew just how much love you can feel for your pet.”
Having hosted, judged and emceed nearly every other kind of event in the Lynchburg area over the past 23 years, Turyn can’t recall judging animals before. One thing made her hesitate, though.
“My first thing was, ‘well, wait — I want to enter Cadbury into these contests!’ ” she says. “But I agreed because one, I love animals and it will be just something fun, and two, I still get to bring Cadbury and show him off anyway.”