ESTEVAN - The Dr. Neil Howard Memorial Dog Jog, one of the bigger fundraisers for the Estevan Humane Society, saw many participants walking at Woodlawn Regional Park on Sunday.
The 11th edition of the annual fundraiser became another happy return of a valued community event. It was combined with the EHS birthday bash. In May, Estevan's shelter marked its 28th birthday, which was celebrated with a cake after the walk at the Doug Third Hall.
EHS president Tayja Lakusta said that while they are still recovering from COVID times, they are keeping busy trying to bring all their events and fundraisers back.
"We've got lots of people interested in donations. And we're doing our little mini fundraisers. More people are reaching out and asking what kind of fundraisers we're interested in doing. That's helpful. But it's a never-ending cycle – the more animals we get, the more fundraising you got to do to get them all spayed and neutered and adopted," Lakusta explained.
Once restrictions were lifted in early 2022, the shelter decided to proceed with their annual Dog Jog. Last year the event was held virtually, and pledgers were able to raise over $3,000 for shelter animals. With it being back to in-person the engagement was higher this year.
"We're up more donations and the dog jogger pledges than last year," Lakusta said.
With about 50 people and pets participating in the memorial walk, the shelter received about $5,000.
The top pledge collectors in their age groups were Rhea Lakusta, who raised $515 in the zero-to-six-years-old category; Lia Mantei with $1,350 in pledges in a seven-to-11-years-old group; and Iris Elson in the 12-15-years-old group, who collected $360. Top pledgers received prizes donated to the EHS by DMS Services, Signal Direct and the Howard family.
It's always busy at the shelter, which means there is no downtime for the EHS's fundraising efforts. The Dr. Neil Howard Memorial Dog Jog, combined with the birthday bash, is one of the four larger fundraisers. The next one coming up will be the Duck Derby happening in September.
Last year, they also organized a Boxing Day Cabaret, which they plan to continue with in 2022. And in early 2023 they hope to host a big Whiskers and Wine Gala.
"These are four main big ones that we focus on to do bigger and then we just do little things throughout the year to help us monthly," Lakusta noted.
The shelter is currently at capacity for dogs of different ages and personalities ready for adoption. They also have a lot of cats of all kinds, but they are not overfilled.
"I wouldn't say we're full or overwhelmed with cats right now, which is shocking. But we've got kittens and cats of all ages," Lakusta said. "There is somebody for everyone down there. You just have to go down and visit and we'll find someone you can bring home with you."
The shelter and the City of Estevan also continue with their trap-neuter-release (TNR) program, which sees them having one or two trapping day every month. They bring kittens into the shelter for adoption, and adult feral cats get neutered and then returned to their habitat. These efforts are covered by the money allocated for the program by the city.