May 1, 2005 Broiling sun didn't stop a couple hundred people from turning out for the annual Wagapalooza fundraiser for the Animal Care Center.
For the first time, organizers held the event at the Winston Wells Ballfield in Cruz Bay, a move from Skinny Legs Bar and Restaurant in Coral Bay.
Jen Dale, one of the organizers, said that the event had grown to the point where Skinny Legs was too small.
"And we couldn't make this much money at Skinny Legs," she said.
Dale said the event was made possible by team effort and donations. If someone realized the event needed paper goods, someone went out and bought what was needed, she said.
As always, the dog show was the highlight of the event.
"It's for a good cause," Dae Pickerell said as she waited with her golden retriever, Scout, for their turn in the ring.
Patty Mahoney was on hand to show off her new dog, Mr. Bud. He's what residents call a coconut retriever, a mixed breed of unknown parentage. She said that the 43-pound Mr. Bud was very good with other dogs, but the excitement of the event was a bit too much for him.
Cheryl Miller, a former St. John resident who now lives on St. Thomas, came over with the St. John-born Pepper. The dog is a mix between a schipperke and a chihuahua.
She said Pepper is a hero who recently saved peoples' lives by alerting them to a fire in their house. Miller said the dog stayed with friends who inadvertently set the curtains on fire when they put a still-lit cigarette in a wastebasket. "Pepper was barking and barking," she said.
Dale said 30 dogs and their owners entered in various categories. No results for the contests were available late Sunday.
John Fuller served as one of the judges.
"It was hard to pick from such a talented and heart-tugging array," he said.
Not everybody came with their pets.
"Our dog is socially retarded," Vicki Uzell said as she watched the event. Her daughter, Lila, 11, volunteers at the Animal Care Center, Uzell said.
In addition to the dog show, the event featured t-shirt sales, several tables full of pet-care and pet-related products for sale, and cages of kittens up for adoption.
Katha Ricciardi, who was helping to staff the adoption table, said at last year's event she found homes for 14 kittens in the last 45 minutes of the event. She was hoping to do the same this year.
"We've got great healthy cats and they're all tested for FIV and leukemia," she said. The Animal Care Center has 18 cats and nine dogs needing homes.
Ricciardi said that Animal Care Center volunteers are on hand with pets available for adoption from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Wednesday at the Marketplace Shopping Center. She said they've placed 40 since November through this route.
Additionally, she said the Animal Care Center will resume its free spay and neuter program Wednesday. The program is for feral animals.
Sen. Craig Barshinger took a turn at the microphone to promise that the Virgin Islands will have an animal cruelty bill by the end of this week. Gov. Charles Turnbull vetoed the bill in March because he said some penalties were too harsh.
Barshinger predicted the senators will either override Turnbull's veto or come up with a new version in concert with Turnbull to take out the parts disliked by the governor.
He agreed that some of the penalties in the vetoed bill were unduly harsh.
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