Volunteers spiff up dogs in support

?Tuck? gets a bath from Debbie Winmill, left, and Cindy Harper at Saturday's 15th Annual Dog Wash, hosted by the Ashland Food Co-op.

Dirty dogs were cleaned up at the Ashland Food Co-op this weekend to help support the Friends of the Animal Shelter. Just after noon on Saturday, organizers estimated that they had washed well over 100 dogs at the FOTAS Annual Ashland Dog Wash in the parking lot of the co-op.

The dog wash, now in its 15th year, is one of several FOTAS fundraising events taking place throughout the year to benefit the organization, which in turn benefits the Jackson County Animal Shelter. For dog-owners, $7 was well worth one clean dog. For organizers of the event, each clean dog was worth more aid to animals in need in Jackson County.

"We are out here volunteering to support the animal shelter," said Peggy Moore, president of FOTAS. "The goal is to keep animals social and adoptable."

FOTAS is a non-profit group which was founded in 1990 with the goals of increasing pet adoption, improving the quality of life for shelter animals and promoting spaying and neutering of animals.

According to Moore, the county shelter sees close to 7,000 animals go through their doors each year. Most of the animals are abandoned pets or rescued strays. The all-volunteer dog wash fundraiser provided funding to the shelter and raised local awareness of animal issues in the valley. "A big problem is that people aren't spaying and neutering their animals," Moore said. "With that, and along with feral animals, there is a huge population problem in the region."

According to Moore, about 1,500 dogs and cats are adopted through the shelter each year. Programs such as the "two for one" program, where two cats can be adopted for the price of one, are hoping to help increase the number of animals adopted. Moore explains that despite efforts, there is a growing problem in the area, which creates a need for volunteer services like the ones provided by FOTAS.

Rebekah Bailey, owner of Bark Avenue in Ashland, was among the volunteers. Bailey has been a dog groomer for more than 10 years and donated her professional services for free along with the rest of the dog washers and groomers.

"We have done this consecutively for two years," Bailey said. "We like doing this because it's for such a good cause."

Some dog owners donated more than the listed price while others paid to have dogs washed who were already clean.

Mary Beth Lamb, a Jackson County resident, owns her own washing facilities on her farm. That didn't keep her from paying for washes for three of her seven Labradors.

"I came with one other dog earlier in the day," Lamb said. "I would bring in the rest but I don't think I have time. I just want to support the shelter, it doesn't matter that I have my own facility at home, I always want to contribute to the shelter when I get a chance."

"Every year we do a little bit better," Moore said. "Last year we made about 1,300 dollars. It looks like we may break the record again this year."

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