Dogs really had something to wag their tails about after this year’s Wagapalooza which netted a much-needed $25,000 for the St. John Animal Care Center.
“We were very pleased that God smiled on the animals and held the rain off for a brief period,” said John Fuller, ACC’s treasurer. “It was a sunny day and it quit raining early enough on Friday to dry out the field.”
While the sun made a welcomed appearance at the 9th annual Wagapalooza on Saturday, May 16, at the Winston Wells ball field in Cruz Bay, the real warmth was in the fact that the ACC secured enough money to remain operational through December.
“All of this money will enable us to keep the shelter open through December and take us through to our next fundraiser,” Fuller said. “Without this financing, we didn’t have enough money to go through December, but this will carry us.”
The ACC, a non-profit organization responsible for the rescue, care and adoption of the island’s abused and homeless pets, relies on three fundraisers a year — Wagapalooza in May, the “Flea Market” in October and “Christmas for the Animals” in December.
The ACC’s budget this year is $139,000, which will enable it to remain a no-kill shelter as well as house and care for an average of 10 dogs and puppies and 20 to 30 cats and kittens at a time. Until new homes are secured for these animals, the funds cover the cost of food, shelter, medical attention and a successful program which spayed and neutered 300 animals last year alone.
“We also have a feral cat spay/neuter program with about 30 feeding stations around St. John where we can concentrate the cats, trap them and spay or neuter them before returning them to the same spot,” Fuller said.
“Each year, we have the costs of buying 10 tons of cat food for our feral cat program alone.”
Year after year, Wagapalooza inspires the island’s dogs and their owners to show off their talents, tricks and good looks during a range of unique dog show categories, including Best Trick, Best Lookalike, Best Lap Dog, Best Spot and Best Tail, to name a few.
Thirty-nine dogs were entered in this year’s event, but Fuller said at least twice that many were socializing in the audience.
“It was a great day full of dogs meeting and greeting and sniffing and doing all the things dogs love to do,” he said.
The dog show marked the main attraction of Wagapalooza, which let the audience be the judge for the second year in a row, measuring their applause with the world’s only Waga-Meter.
One particularly unique category, “Best Brother and Sister Miniature Bulldog Serving Time on St. John,” featured only one entry.
“It was so great seeing these two dogs dressed in prison stripes as they paraded around the ball field,” Fuller said. “The category was sponsored by a generous donor who gave $500 to the ACC so if you want to guarantee yourself a blue ribbon next year, talk to the ACC about sponsoring a special category.”
More than 40 volunteers helped plan the event, set everything up and take it all down, according to Fuller. He said more money was netted this year thanks to increased sponsorship from the local business community as well as generous donations from the West Indies Corporation and Hunter Foods which markets Pedigree and was handing out free bags of dog food throughout the event.
“Our goal was $30,000 but we were very pleased with the $25,000 we raised,” Fuller said. “By all accounts it was a really fun evening.”
With Pyros of the Caribbean putting on a fire show, Customs and Immigration leading a drug-dog demonstration, delicious food and drinks and all of the excitement that comes from watching the dogs strut their stuff, Fuller said Wagapalooza remains one of the best social events in Cruz Bay.
“I heard someone say that she has more fun at Wagapalooza than she does at Christmas, New Year’s or the Fourth of July,” Fuller said.
People can still donate to the ACC by calling the shelter at (340) 774-1625 or visiting their website at: http://www.stjacc.org/.