On the final day of summer, dozens gathered at the Hargraves Community pool to celebrate the bond between man and man’s best friend.
The annual Orange County Animal Services Dog Swim gives dog owners the chance to swim with their dogs and socialize with other residents.
“Dogs come swim, and we provide frisbees and tennis balls for them to play with,” said Sarah Fallin, program coordinator at county animal services.
This marked the ninth year of the event and coordinators said it has grown tremendously with last year’s turnout reaching nearly 100 people.
“The event started with the Orange County Parks and Recreation and Triangle SportsPlex as a fundraiser for the Orange County Animal Protective Services and Animal Shelter,” Fallin said.
But the fundraising aspect of the event has evolved over its nine-year life span.
“It’s not a fundraiser anymore because we don’t make much money,” Fallin said.
In addition to the fundraising, the event’s mission adopted a community outreach strategy to bring pet owners closer in the community.
“We want to make the community aware of our programs and the resources we provide along with the opportunity to involve members of the community,” said Bob Marotto, Director of Animal Services.
In addition to this occasion, the county animal services had a litany of resources to connect Chapel Hill residents with shelter animals.
“We hold a Christmas parade, meet and greets and adoption facilitation programs,” said Lori-Anne Shapiro, a volunteer for the animal services department.
Saturday’s event drew people from beyond the Triangle area to spend the afternoon swimming with their dogs.
“We know it’s fun for our dog and it’s important to get her socialized with other dogs and humans,” said Burlington resident Marta Sanchez. “We have a Pit Bull mix and there are a lot of misconceptions about them, but socializing her with other dogs makes a big difference.”
Along with the various animal services present at the event, UNC Helping Paws played a role in Saturday’s festivities.
“We do outreach programs with the Orange County Animal Services, as well as events on campus,” said Ginny Larkin-Thorsen, co-chairwoman of the club.
Students might be most familiar with the “Puppies in the Pit” program, but Larkin said the club does good work in the community.
After the splashing subsided, the underlying mission of the event became clear.
“It’s a wonderful event and it brings together people throughout the community to celebrate the bond between dogs and people,” Marotto said.
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