July 18, 2004 – Pooches and their people was the theme at the Rotary Clubs Paws for Paradise fundraiser Sunday. The purpose of the event, held on the grounds of the Agricultural Fair in Estate Lower Love, was to raise funds for the St. Croix K-9 Search and Rescue teams. About 100 people and pets attended the dog show and rescue exhibition.
Pampered pets competed in an array of contests that displayed their agility, obedience and good looks. There were big dogs, little dogs, hairy dogs and fluffy dogs, pretty dogs and, well, lovable dogs. Frisky pooches caught Frisbees, retrieved coconuts, mingled with other pooches and showed off their owners. Some dogs even won recognition for being the coolest.
Prizewinning pooches and their proud partners paraded around the winners' circle and took photographs to remember the day. Strictly for kids, there was face painting and an art contest.
Yvonne and Dsnte Galiber had been looking for a dog to adopt for their seven-year-old daughter, Dominique. They went to the St. Croix Animal shelter tent, where dog lovers could adopt a dog, sign up for a dog license or get a microchip implanted in their dog. A black mixed-breed puppy won their hearts and the Galibers' decided to adopt him. Pondering the perfect name for her new friend, Dominique mused aloud, "Johnny, no Patrick, hmmm , maybe Elliot its too hard to decide," she said.
Even Phoenix, the dog that had been brutally abused and set on fire, was out enjoying the activities. See Link Between Animal Abuse, Human Violence Explored
Phoenix was looking healthy and happy despite the scarring, permanent evidence of his mistreatment. "He still needs more surgeries, but we are spacing them out to give his skin time to heal," said Jerome Guerra. Guerra is an Americorp Vista volunteer, assigned to work with the St. Croix Animal shelter for one year. Guerra said the shelter brought five adoptable dogs to the event. By midday three had new homes and he expected that all would be adopted by day's end. But before the new pets can be taken home they have to be spayed and neutered by the shelter. The new owners pay a fee of $50 for dogs that include worm and flea treatment. "It's a $200 dollar value," said Guerra.
Neska, a golden retriever, got microchipped by veterinary technician Jill Cook. Neska's owners, Annelise and Daniel Garriga said it's the best way to find your dog if he gets lost. The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and is inserted in the dog with a syringe. A dog tag with a number corresponding to the serial number on the chip is attached to the dog's collar. If the dog is lost, the veterinarian or the animal shelter can scan the dog with a special scanner and get information that will return the dog to its owner.
The highlight of the day was a demonstration by the St Croix Rescue team. The newly trained search and rescue dogs received high grades for their display of obedience, running the obstacle course and search and rescue. Elroy Moorhead, the lead local instructor, said there are four SAR teams on St. Croix: Eugene Phipps and Mandy, Azalea Macedon and Bailey, Allen Simmons and Bishop and Carol Christian and Duchess. All of the dogs being used were rescued from the St. Croix animal shelter. "Good obedience is the key," said Moorhead. The dogs were also trained in cadaver work, water rescue and scent discrimination.
Rotarian Liz Goggins called the event a success and said many people told her they are getting ready for next year's dog show. Goggins said there would definitely be a repeat performance. "We are committed to helping the St. Croix SAR team and this is the perfect way to do it."
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