Finding forever homes for the animals of the Chautauqua County Humane Society is no easy task, and that's why community support is needed at the organization's biggest annual fundraiser.
The CCHS is set to host the ninth annual Walk 4 Paws at Chautauqua Institution's Market Gate parking area on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. In addition to a 2-mile walk through Chautauqua Institution, the event will feature a pet costume contest, vendors, fundraising and awareness-building activities.
According to Edwin Rodriguez Jr., community relations director for the CCHS, because the CCHS doesn't receive funding from the city, county or state to operate, the organization relies on the community's support at fundraising events. So, the CCHS hosts several fundraising opportunities, such as a pet photo contest in early spring, the Bark N'Brew picnic and auction at Southern Tier Brewing Company in June and the Walk 4 Paws in the fall.
"We wouldn't be able to operate without our community," Rodriguez said. "Walk 4 Paws is kind of our flagship event. What it helps us do is provide the adoption, counseling and therapy services to the animals we take in. It also helps us provide spay, neuter, rabies, distemper and other shot clinics. So, we have a lot on our plate, and this event really helps us offset those costs to continue to provide services."
Participants may form fundraising teams, and the group with the highest combined fundraising total will win a trophy. There are also fundraising incentive prizes for individuals, and the more money participants raise the more gifts they can unlock.
"However you want to raise funds you can earn your way to those prizes," Rodriguez said. "It's really cool because you can do as much, or as little, as you want."
The event, which has been held at Chautauqua Institution for the past four years, will once again be held at the Market Gate parking area.
"Chautauqua Institution has been really good to us," Rodriguez said. "The course this year has changed, and goes down to the lake. Our participants will follow the edge of the lake all the way down through the length of Chautauqua Institution, past the Athenaeum and the Presidents Cottage. We wanted to give people a different tour than what they've normally seen. We went up last weekend, and the colors were all changed and the leaves were falling - it's a beautiful scene."
The event will feature a juried animal costume contest, with prizes given to the animal and their owner for three different awards. So, area residents are encouraged to bring their pets, however they must be leashed or restrained in some way, and have current vaccinations. Photographers will be on-site to capture images that will later be provided on the CCHS' official website and its Facebook.
"It's not just about dogs - it's a walk for all paws," Rodriguez said. "We do encourage people to bring cats too. We've had people bring cats in baby strollers or make a paper mache spaceship around their cat carrier. So, what we've had people do is make a creative way to get their animal out of the house."
Sponsors for the Walk 4 Paws include: Jamestown Medical Imaging, The Post-Journal, Shults Ford Lincoln Mercury, Clark Patterson Lee Design Associates, UBS Financial Services, Team Jock Shop, Greater Chautauqua Federal Credit Union, and others.
For more information, call 665-2209, ext. 213, or visit www.spcapets.com.