Story last updated at 4:28 p.m. Thursday, June 20, 2002

It's a dog's life at mutt strut
by Sean Pearson
Special to Homer News

photo: news
  Photo by Sean Pearson, Homer News
Maya Rohr and her sister Jane accompany their canine companion, Tory, through an obstacel course at last Saturday's Strut Your Mutt event.  
OK, you're a dog. For weeks now, you've been noticing the human in your life suspiciously eyeing pink taffeta and ribbons. "Not to worry," say the neighbor dogs. "Probably something for the cat," says the stray at the park. But you can sense it (it's a "dog thing.") And no sooner had you let your mind wander off to fire hydrants and endless parking lots of brand new car tires, when you find yourself wrapped in rose chiffon and sporting a rhinestone tiara. Sure, you look pretty ridiculous, but look at that gleam in your human's eye. You know you're going to do it.

And so you set off for the Homer Animal Friends' Strut Your Mutt in the finest terrier tutu money can buy. Gotta draw the line at that tiara, though! Luckily, you find yourself among many friends at the third annual event. Canine comrades are decked out in everything from T-shirts and shorts to Harley Davidson leathers. You hang out with friends, hit the trail around town, check out the "watering holes," and do your best to strut your ballerina badness with the best of them. Life is good!

"Wow. What a beautiful day to do this," said Sherry Bess, Homer Animal Shelter director. "We had 60 people and dogs participate in this year's strut, which is almost twice as many as last year. I think everyone had a really good time," she said of Saturday's event.

The Strut Your Mutt is one of the main fund-raisers for the Homer Animal Friends' Spay/Neuter Program. This program has been working for more than 10 years to help reduce the number of unwanted pets on the Lower Kenai Peninsula. Through the spay and neuter program, Homer Animal Friends subsidizes 60 percent of the veterinary charges to have any animal spayed or neutered. Last year, the program helped with 272 animals, and is hoping to increase that number to 365 this year.

photo: news
  Photo by Sean Pearson, Homer News
This taffeta-clad canine is smiling almost as wide as its owners, despite warm weather andan unusual costume.  
"Our goal this year is to spay or neuter at least one animal per day, every day of the year," said Diana Sedor, shelter volunteer. "With 162 animals already fixed by May of this year, we are well on our way to reaching that goal of 365 animals." Sedor also said that the program is seeking to spay and neuter at least 80 percent of these animals before they reach the age of nine months.

The program lists the advantages of spaying or neutering a pet at a younger age as a less expensive surgical procedure and a lack of opportunity for the animal to accidentally reproduce.

"A spayed or neutered animal is guaranteed less health problems from cancers and diseases of the reproductive organs," Sedor said. "They are loyal and devoted pets with absolutely no clue as to what they are missing."

According to Sedor, by a conservative count, the spaying and neutering of 272 animals last year resulted in approximately 17,350 unborn animals.

"Certainly each and every one of those animals would have been cute and lovable," she said. "But the fact is there are just too many."

Bess said she feels the program continues to grow bigger and better every year.

"I have had hardly any puppies and kittens come into the shelter this month," she said. "I think the program is really making an impact on the unwanted pet population on the Lower Kenai Peninsula."

Sedor said she sees Strut Your Mutt as not only a good way to keep the spaying and neutering fund well stocked and available to anyone who needs it, but also helps to promote the positive aspects of responsible per ownership. She said she hopes that by raising awareness of the number of unwanted pets that are euthanized in our community every year, people will develop a better understanding of how important spaying and neutering is.

"Ultimately, our dream is to see a community where animals are so precious, they are no longer thrown away," Sedor said. "We want to see each animal respected and honored."

For more information on the Homer Animal Friends' Spay/Neuter Program, call 235-SPAY (7729.)