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Sunday, March 31, 2013 n Suffolk News-Herald

Priceless Pets CMYK


Mutt Strut returns

Your Priceless Pets

Three-legged friends

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Page 2 – Sunday, March 31, 2013, Suffolk News-Herald, Priceless Pets

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Priceless Pets, Suffolk News-Herald, Sunday, March 31, 2013 – Page 3

Mutt Strut returns to North Suffolk By Tracy Agnew News Editor

The fifth Mutt Strut Dog Walk and Festival will be held this year on May 5. The event was moved from September to avoid conflicting with other area events, but it’s not the first time a Suffolk Humane Society fundraiser has been held in May. The precursor to Mutt Strut was an event called Just Fur Fun, which was held in the spring several years ago. “For various reasons, we couldn’t do it the next spring,” said Kay Hurley, director of community outreach for the Suffolk Humane Society. But the following fall, the event began its new incarnation as the Mutt Strut. The event has been a first-weekendof-fall tradition for four years, but the society decided to move it, skipping last fall and having it this May. “We found there were some conflict-

file photo

Mutt Strut: Participants in the pledge walk at the 2011 Mutt Strut set off on the course around Sleepy Hole Park. The fifth Mutt Strut Dog Walk and Festival will be held this year on May 5. The event, which is co-sponsored by the city of Suffolk, has become the society’s largest fundraiser. Registration for the pledge walk is $15, and walkers are eligible for goodie bags and other prizes based on the amount of donations they raise for the event.

See STRUT, 4

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Page 4 – Sunday, March 31, 2013, Suffolk News-Herald, Priceless Pets

Humane Society serves community By Tracy Agnew News Editor


The Mutt Strut not only helps the Suffolk Humane Society raise money for its programs, but also it helps the society spread the word about those programs. One of the primary goals of the society is to promote the adoption of homeless animals. Mutt Strut accomplishes this goal by providing a venue for the public to meet adoptable animals, raising money for the cause all year around and simply bringing attention to the plight of homeless animals. “Mutt Strut is a big adoptathon,” said Kay Hurley, community outreach director for the Suffolk Humane Society. “The money we raise truly helps us find homes for those animals.” The society pays adoption fees for animals it takes from the city animal shelter to foster in volunteers’ homes. “All of those things take money,” Hurley said. The society also focuses on promoting spaying and neutering as a means of controlling pet overpopulation. Funds raised at Mutt Strut support the feral cat program, in which the colony caretaker pays half of the fee and the society pays the other half. The Virginia Beach Neuter Scooter and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ SNIP van visit the city regularly. “We don’t get any of that free,” Hurley said. “What the public pays is what we pay. It all depends on the donations that come in to Suffolk Humane.” The society also stresses humane education. A number of programs, including Books and Reading for Kids in Suffolk, fall under this category. The BARKS program helps struggling readers succeed by allowing children to read to therapy dogs. Therapy dogs also visit local health care facilities. The society also plans a broad outreach to educate people about the city’s new ordinance that bans chaining or tethering animals, Hurley said. Overall, donors and participants to Mutt Strut can be assured their money will go toward helping save pets in Suffolk. “We are strictly local,” Hurley said. “Every dime we make stays in the community to help the community.” For more information on Mutt Strut, visit

File photos

Mutt Strut: At left, a representative of the K9 Justice League shows off adoptable dogs at the 2011 Mutt Strut. The event has become one big adoptathon, with the Suffolk Humane Society and many rescue organizations bringing animals of all types to meet prospective adopters. Above, a pooch strolls around in his cool sunglasses and leather jacket.

Strut: Event will take place May 5 at Sleepy Hole Park Continued from page 3 ing events, and there was one that was animal-related,” Hurley said. “It was kind of a challenge for vendors to be two places at once.” The event, which is co-sponsored by the city of Suffolk, has become the society’s largest fundraiser. Because last year’s event didn’t occur, the society is especially counting on this year’s event to help support its programs. “Because we did not have it last year and that’s our main fundraising event, this one is really critical,” Hurley said. “We really need people to pledge to walk, whether they literally walk or not.” The humane society does not receive any support from the city or any national organizations, so it depends on the

generosity of the community to fulfill its mission. Registration for the pledge walk is $15, and walkers are eligible for goodie bags and other prizes based on the amount of donations they raise for the event. But while the pledge walk is the centerpiece of the event, there will be plenty of other activities going on as well. Police and bomb dog demonstrations will take place, as well as a canine costume contest, silent auction, adoptable pets from animal rescue groups and shelters, a rabies clinic and vet corner and more. The Flying Jacks, a group of Jack Russell terrier stunt dogs, also will wow the crowd. Organizers expect thousands of visitors

and their pooches to attend. “The 2011 event drew over 2,000 people from all over Hampton Roads, even with rainy weather, and raised over $45,000 to help homeless animals and raise awareness about animal welfare,” said Michele Thames, executive director of Suffolk Humane. “We hope to exceed expectations for this year’s event. We know lots of dogs and their owners have been waiting for Mutt Strut to return. Everyone is encouraged to attend, whether they have a dog or not. It is a great event for everyone.” The Mutt Strut will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. May 5 at Sleepy Hole Park. For more information, visit


Priceless Pets, Suffolk News-Herald, Sunday, March 31, 2013 – Page 5

2580 Pruden Blvd., Suffolk, VA • 934-2363 • Cathy Staub, Admissions Director Visit our website: CMYK


Page 6 – Sunday, March 31, 2013, Suffolk News-Herald, Priceless Pets

pricelesspets S ometimes its seems the only photos people enjoy sharing more than those of their children and grandchildren are the ones of their pets. We asked our readers to share some of their favorite pet photos with us for the first Suffolk News-Herald/ Nansemond Pet Cremation Priceless Pets Photo Contest, and we loved seeing the entries we received. Unfortunately there were not enough entries for winners to be chosen in different categories, but all of the photos

were entered into the Top Dog contest. Winners will be notified prior to Mutt Strut, where we will award trophies and prize packs to Suffolk’s most photogenic pooches. Be sure to join us at Mutt Strut on May 5 for all the festivities. Meanwhile, feast your eyes on these fabulous Fidos and Fifis. Which one do you think should be Suffolk’s Top Dog? Visit the Suffolk News-Herald on Facebook and let us know. — Res Spears



Tonie Blair

Poppy Cochran


Priceless Pets, Suffolk News-Herald, Sunday, March 31, 2013 – Page 7


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Jean Pierre IV Garrett


Lucy Gunderson


Dash Kelly

Page 8 – Sunday, March 31, 2013, Suffolk News-Herald, Priceless Pets


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Priceless Pets, Suffolk News-Herald, Sunday, March 31, 2013 – Page 9

4Society Success Story

CMYK Tracy Agnew/suffolk news-herald

Adopted cats: Cyndi Diton of Virginia Beach adopted Nicholas, above left, and Toby, above right, from the Suffolk Humane Society. Each cat has only three legs, the result of a birth defect in both cases. Diton said she loves the Suffolk Humane Society because they give disabled animals a chance, rather than euthanizing them.

Three-legged friends Virginia Beach woman adopts disabled cats from Suffolk Humane By Tracy Agnew News Editor

Virginia Beach resident Cyndi Diton has two cats with only six legs between them. Diton is the adoptive parent of Toby and Nicholas, two three-legged felines she brought home from the Suffolk Humane Society. She admits she never had a cat before getting Toby a couple of years ago but wouldn’t trade either of them. She and her husband used to feed a stray cat that came CMYK

'I think it’s wonderful they don’t euthanize animals that have a special need.' Cyndi Diton

Virginia Beach resident

around occasionally about four years ago, she said. They finally figured out who it belonged to and returned it to its owner, she said. Later, she was at PetSmart at Chesapeake Square, where the

humane society keeps several of its adoption-ready cats to meet potential adopters. When she saw Toby, he was lying down and she didn’t even realize he had three legs — she only noticed his sandy color.

“He’s just gorgeous,” Diton said. She went back to see him later and only then realized Toby is missing his left rear leg, the result of a birth defect. It was no matter — she brought him home and made him part of the family, which then included only her husband and several dogs. It has since expanded to include a daughter. After she had Toby for a while, the Suffolk Humane Society called her with news they had another three-legged

cat available for adoption. Nicholas, as he was named because he was adopted near Christmas, is missing his right front leg, also because of a birth defect, Diton says she was told. The two cats have bonded well, and their missing legs hardly slow them down — they still run and jump on the furniture like any other cat. Diton said she appreciates the Suffolk Humane Society’s commitment to animals. “I think it’s wonderful they don’t euthanize animals that have a special need,” she said.

Page 10 – Sunday, March 31, 2013, Suffolk News-Herald, Priceless Pets

Therapy dogs bring joy By Tracy Agnew News Editor

Sisters Robin Smith and Roxanne Francis bring friendly smiles and furry friends to residents at Suffolk’s Autumn Care every Wednesday morning. The two make the rounds with their trained therapy dogs, allowing residents to pet them, talk to them and ask questions about them. The dogs and their people duck in and out of residents’ rooms, visit the activity rooms and strut their stuff in the hallway, stopping to allow residents to pet them there too. “They light up when they see the dogs,” said Smith, who alternates bringing her two dogs. “I think it makes their day.” The women ask every resident, “Do you want to pet the dogs today?” Most residents smile or CMYK

clap when they see the pups headed their way. According to a study conducted by Therapy Dogs International, which trains and certifies therapy dogs, bringing canines to health care settings has many positive effects on patients, including positive mood alterations, increased socialization and verbalization, more alertness, reduced anxiety and decreased blood pressure. The residents aren’t the only ones who benefit, Smith said. “(The dogs) like the extra attention,” Smith said. “And the staff like it just as much as the patients.” Francis first got into volunteering with her therapy dog when the trainer at obedience class recommended it for her mixedbreed pooch, Onyx. She then got her sister doing it as well. The dogs sit or stand peaceful-

ly beside residents’ wheelchairs to be petted, flinching when fingers get too close to their eyes but never pulling away, growling or barking. “They just have the right personality,” Francis said of the dogs. Smith also takes her dogs to the hospital and to the Suffolk Humane Society’s BARKS (Books and Reading for Kids in Suffolk) program, which allows children to read books to the dogs. Francis said she is considering signing Onyx up to participate at BARKS. “I think she would enjoy it,” Francis said. “She likes kids.” If some patients can’t reach the dogs, Francis gets Onyx, a larger dog, to sit down to bring his head higher. Smith either picks up her small dog Mocha or See THERAPY, 11

Tracy Agnew/suffolk news-herald

Therapy dogs: Autumn Care resident Wilson Wright visits dog Onyx and owner Roxanne Francis during a recent visit. Experts say therapy dogs can help patients reduce stress, boost their mood and even decrease blood pressure.


Priceless Pets, Suffolk News-Herald, Sunday, March 31, 2013 – Page 11

Tracy Agnew/suffolk news-herald

Relaxation: Autumn Care resident Mable Arnold visits with Mocha and his owner, Robin Smith, during a recent therapy dog visit to the nursing home on Pruden Boulevard.

Therapy: Visits benefit patients, staff Continued from page 10 gets him to stand on his hind legs to greet the patient. The only difficulty they have is that some residents are afraid of dogs, Francis said. “It gets hard when one person in a

room is afraid of dogs and the other person wants to see him,” Francis said. “It’s a good program for the patients,” said Tameika Brown, activities director at the nursing home. “It gives them something to look forward to.” CMYK

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Page 12 – Sunday, March 31, 2013, Suffolk News-Herald, PRICELESS PETS



Priceless Pets 2013  

Publication promoting the Suffolk Humane Society's annual Mutt Strut

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