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Raining cats and dogs

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Kira Williams, 11, left, and Isabella Dastjerdi, 10, both SPCA Junior Board members, hold kittens in need of adaption or a foster home through Dakota's Dreams Animal Rescue organization who were exhibiting rescued animals during the 6th Annual Pawfest held at the SPCA at 115 Featherbed Lane in Winchester on Saturday. Andrew Thayer/Daily

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Jennifer Lawless holds a kitten from Dakotas Dream Animal Rescue organization during the 6th Annual Paw Fest on Saturday. Andrew Thayer/Daily

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Desare'a Paige, 8, takes a swing at the Oh Snap car, a fundraising activity at the 6th Annual Paw Fest held in Winchester on Saturday. Andrew Thayer/Daily

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Tang sits on the shoulders of Jeff Sykes and keeps a close watch on the many dogs that have been brought by theirowners to the 6th Annual Paw Fest held at the SPCA, at 115 Featherbed Lane in Winchester, on Saturday. Andrew Thayer/Daily

Community-wide fundraiser introduces prospective pet owners to variety of animals who are in need of foster homes or adoption

Candace Sipos -- csipos@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- Out of the 22 dogs at the city's SPCA on Featherbed Lane, Karen Brown chose a small, shivering Jack Russell mix with poor eyesight and a neurological disorder named Lambchop. A local resident found Lambchop on her porch during Hurricane Irene's downpour.

"She's a doll baby --- sweet, cuddly, she's nice," Brown said. "A nice one you just want to hold all day."

Lambchop's free grooming session by At Your Bark'n Call early Saturday afternoon was topped off with a pink and green bandana. The professional grooming company, which also worked on about four other dogs, finished just in time for Brown to see a less-fluffy Lambchop.

This terrier was one of the two dogs adopted by visitors at the sixth annual Paw Fest, the only community-wide event held on the SPCA grounds, Executive Director Will Wood said.

"Sometimes there are that many, a couple, but then they come back afterwards," Wood said. "... They come back and see something they saw before and adopt. It's as much about that as it is anything."

He added that this event also gives local animal-related nonprofit organizations an opportunity to get their names out. This year, those organizations included the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, the Shenandoah Valley Spay/Neuter Clinic and Dakotas Dream, a no-kill cat rescue that has adopted out about 70 cats since January alone.

In addition, about 50 guests and some of their pets crowded around a K-9 unit demonstration. Other events included a toy duck race at a nearby creek and various contests such as tail-wagging, best trick and best costume.

The event, staffed by about 30 volunteers, usually brings in around $2,000 to $3,000, Wood added.

"It's geared toward a variety of things other than just money," Wood said, adding that activity was slightly slower at the beginning of the 10 a.m.-3 p.m. event due to rain. "... Weather always has somewhat of an impact on it, but it seemed to pick up once the rain stopped."

While some guests, like Brown, came to check out adoptable pets, others came to support the SPCA or just to enjoy the free event.

SPCA volunteer Storm Chamberlin was walking her son, Braden, around on a leash. Braden, 10, was dressed up as a dog and wore a basket for donations around his neck. Chamberlin pulled some bills out of the container and said their efforts had been successful.

"I love animals," Braden said, regarding why he wanted to help with the event.
Brian Fox brought his daughter, Anna, and two of their dogs -- an English bulldog named Porkchop and a pug named Walle -- to the festivities. While those dogs were purchased, Fox said he has adopted other pets from the SPCA.

"We've been supporting the SPCA for years," he said. "... It's a good event and the money's well used."

Anna said she enjoys coming to the event because she likes "dogs and kitties" and wants to be a pet sitter when she grows up.

Michelle Boone and her 10-year-old daughter, Rebecca, brought their chocolate lab, Shadow, to the event for the first time this year. Rebecca and Shadow came in third in the costume contest and tied for first in the best trick contest, Boone said.

"She loves the dog," Boone said. "She keeps telling me she wants eight or nine when she's bigger."

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