Tails were wagging non-stop last Saturday at the San Gabriel Valley Humane Society, which hosted a day of activities to celebrate its 95th year of connecting people and pets — and to help raise funds for shelter upgrades.
The event, which drew more than 200 people and 100 dogs, was deemed the most successful in the organization’s history.
“It’s been a wonderful day,’’ said Rachel Conger, who has been a volunteer with the Humane Society for the past two years.
“I work with the cats and smaller dogs, sometimes the larger dogs, and I’m also part of the rescue team that helps find homes for dogs that get extra stressed out being at the shelter. I saw some of our shelter alumni dogs attend today’s event with their new families and it was nice to see them. It’s very rewarding and every little tail wag makes me smile.”
The celebration kicked off with a Blessing of the Animals and Poker “Dog Pack” Walk that gave away four Disneyland tickets to one lucky winner, followed by different activities for children and dogs, including various artist booths and “Pawtrait” art creations, where dogs stepped in non-toxic paint and made canvas prints of their paws for their fur parents to hang at home.
Cecile Vasquez came to the event and with her three Mitzu dogs — Estrella, Oreo and Chiquita — and left with a canvas bearing their paw prints.
“This was the first time that they’ve ever had their paw prints in paint,” she said. “They were a little scared at first, but it was a really cute and fun activity for them to experience. I love how the Humane Society does different events for the community — it’s a great chance for my dogs to get involved and interact with other dogs.”
Professional illustrator Clair Dewilde of Artful Armadillo spent the day drawing caricatures of people’s pets at her booth.
“I’ve been drawing really cute dogs that have walked by, and people have been sending me pictures of their cats,” she said. “I low drawing all kinds of animals, and I do pet portraits. It’s been fun talking with people about their dogs, many of whom are rescues.”
Shearin Le and Camille Matute, founders of the “Joyce and Renee’’ pet boutique, were selling handmade pet-related items at their booth, which included leashes, hand towels and art.
“Our friend Michelle volunteers with the Humane Society and told us about the event,” they said. “And we love animals, so we were excited to be a part of it. We recently launched our business and this is our very first event. It’s been great.”
Another popular activity was the agility scramble, which featured various obstacles and activities for dogs to complete. Omar and Gina Diaz brought their 6-year-old miniature schnauzer, Sparks, to try out the agility training.
“We found out about the event through Dr. Joni Nasser, who is a veterinarian and board member for the Humane Society,” said Gina.
Added Omar, “We always try to support the Humane Society and hope that they continue to do things for the local animals and prevent them from getting hurt.”
Officer Paul Puente from the San Gabriel Police Department showed up with his K-9 partner, Bentley, to perform a demonstration for the crowd. Puente is the first K-9 handler in the department’s history.
“This is the kick-off of our Rebuild the Shelter Campaign,” said Cindy Rigney, board president of the San Gabriel Valley Humane Society.
“If you take a look around, there’s a lot of work we need to do here, which includes tearing down the current dog kennels and rebuilding them, refurbishing the cat area and putting in a store so that when people adopt pets, they can buy all of the supplies and items that they need here.
“We also have a very active volunteer program and are always looking for people that want to get involved, particularly with fundraising, and help us take this place to the next 95 years. For our 100-year anniversary in five years, we will be completely rebuilt.”
For more information, visit www.sgvhumane.org.