To kick off Halloween festivities early last Saturday, dozens of area residents brought their furry canine friends out to Copperas Cove City Park in an event that benefits the Animal Control facility.
The sixth annual Howl-O-Ween Puppy Pawlooza, put on by the Copperas Cove Miss Five Hills Scholarship Program, brought in a total of $11,375 in cash and supplies, according to Wendy Sledd, the program’s director.
Prior to knowing the total, David Wellington, Animal Control supervisor, said the event is big for the facility.
“This event is huge for us,” Wellington said Saturday. “People donate a lot of food and toys and everything for the shelter dogs.”
Although not required, participants were encouraged to bring pet food and pet supplies that the Animal Control facility will use when a person adopts a pet.
Donations were not limited to supplies and food for dogs, however. Some people had brought bags and cans of cat food.
“What we do, mostly, if you come out and adopt a dog with us, we let you go shopping and you get to pick toys for your dogs, beds for your dogs,” Wellington said. “So, this really helps us out a lot.”
2018 Copperas Cove Five Hills Ambassador Emily Kimball hosted the event for her third consecutive year.
Although her time in the royalty is over, Kimball said she likes to still be able to make a difference.
“It’s an amazing thing to do it, because when I just see all of the animals with their families and all the donations that we get, I think I know in my heart that we’re making a difference at the animal shelter,” Kimball said.
Even prior to the beginning of the 1-mile walk, donations were piling up in the back of an Animal Control pickup truck.
“Every year, this is one of our biggest (donation events) that we have,” Wellington said. “We always have a great turnout, too.”
Wellington said he appreciates everything the scholarship program does for the facility.
“We couldn’t do it without them,” Wellington said.
Many of the dogs were dressed in Halloween costumes, something Kimball said is her favorite thing.
“My favorite part is the costume contest,” she said. “I love seeing all the animals in their cute little costumes and giving them the prizes.”
Some of the dogs dressed up in costumes were three great Danes and a chihuahua.
The great Danes — Theia, Karma and Aloy — were dressed as a hot dog, French fries and bacon and eggs, respectively. The chihuahua, Joey, was dressed like chicken and waffles.
Their owners, Shie LeBlanc and her sister Sherry Wright and her boyfriend Cody Brown, said they bring the dogs to the event every year.
“All of our girls, except for the chihuahua Joey, (are) working dogs, so they’re service dogs,” Wright said. “It’s one of the only times they get to be dogs. So, they don’t have to focus on everybody else — they can be dogs.”
Wright said she and her sister brought an assortment of toys, food and treats to donate.
LeBlanc said they will continue to come to the event as long as it is still being conducted.
“COVID wasn’t going to stop us one way or the other,” LeBlanc said.
Just finishing the obstacle course was Kimberly Smart with one of her and her husband’s dogs, Charlie — a schipoo (schitzu and poodle).
Smart said it was their first time participating in the event.
“It’s cute,” Smart said of her first impressions. “We don’t have kids, so we like to dress up our dogs for Halloween, so it’s nice to do something fun for them.”
Besides the walk and the costume contest, there was an obstacle course and a dog and owner howling contest.