Around 300 people and their best friends filled the Norman Optimist Club Sunday for Dogs Helping Dogs 4.0.
For the fourth year the free event brought in about 80 vendors with supplies, toys, name tags, food and more for attendees. Norman's Animal Welfare was waiving adoption fees for eight dogs and selling licenses, The St. Francis Animal Resource Center was microchipping and Neel Veterinary Hospital was vaccinating.
"I think anything that brings the community and animals together is a great cause," Dana Call, registered vet technician with Neel Veterinary Hospital, said. "All of us who work in the animal industry in different capacities understand that the human animal bond is very powerful, and that animals in our society are family members."
Dustin Merritt, president of the Norman Community Dog Park Association, said Animal Welfare completed four adoptions, St. Francis microchipped 20 and Neel Veterinary vaccinated 25. The first 150 dogs and owners received free doggy swag bags with free samples of dog food, pet products and services inside.
"Norman's always been a big dog community, this event is multifaceted and brings a lot of the pet related businesses in Norman and the surrounding areas together under one location for networking," Merritt said.
Charles Wiggerly made the first adoption of the day with the Norman Animal Welfare after adopting Doug. Wiggerly said he may rename Doug, but he's happy because he's has been looking for a companion for quite some time.
Throughout the event attendees could take part in a supply drive, large silent auction and raffle for about 80 donated items and services. The silent auction and raffle funds will assist the dog park association in making improvements to the dog park, 1001 E. Robinson St. on the north end of Griffin Park, and offer more public dog-related programs.
Merritt said the city currently has just one dog park, but a second is included in Norman Forward projects. The new dog park, located on Franklin Road and 36th Avenue Northwest in the Ruby Grant Park complex, is scheduled to open in 2021.
A variety of vendors filled the area such as PetSmart, Petco, Whistle, Raising Canes, Westwood Vet Hospitall, Top Dog Classic Coney's, Pawtopia, Dark Water Ranch LLC, First Class Canine and Hollywood Feed. The championship team Tornado Alley Disc Dogs and police dogs also provided three demonstrations.
Charee Thurman and her dog Furgus are both new to Norman, and attended the event for the first time for resources, volunteer opportunities and socialization. Thurman said the event is a lot of fun, and while they were there she got Furgus microchipped.
"I think it's just good to get dog owners out together and let everybody meet and greet and say hello," Thurman said with a laugh as Furgus touched noses with another dog.
Micael Robertson and David Shipman, Norman residents, brought their dog Jade out to the event for their first time to have her socialize, and see what Norman offers dogs.
"[The event] just shows how much the city cares for animals, and shows their support of taking care of them," Robertson said. "Animal Welfare has come a long way here in Norman."
Maj. David Teuscher was out with Animal Welfare Sunday, and said Dogs Helping Dogs is a great and beneficial event for everybody. He said even if a person adopts one dog it's a win-win, and he stressed the importance of licensing pets.
"Licensing saves the city money, because the dog doesn't have to come to the kennel, saves the dog a lot of stress and saves the owner from having to drive all the way down there," Teuscher said. "We can return the dog directly to the owner at that point and time if the pet is licensed and/or microchipped."
City ordinance requires that all residents have their animals licensed in the City of Norman, and as of Oct. 1 Animal Welfare has recorded 626 cats and 2,305 dogs as licensed. Joe Carter, Ward 2 council member and local veterinarian, said licensing is very important and he has seen hundreds of cases where pets without licenses weren't able to be reunited with their owners, especially during tornado seasons.
"On the animal side of things, not the human side of things, one of the greatest tragedies is the inability to reunite owners with their lost pets," Carter said. "There's an online process to get your license, and it's a very simple thing to do if you go to the city's website and go to the animal shelter link."