By Maddy Vitale
Michelle Benson took her 10-year-old beagle mix Sadie, who sported a bandanna with her to Barks on the Bay, a Humane Society of Ocean City event held on the grounds of the shelter Saturday.
Benson patted her pooch, and the two slowly meandered the booths, looking at items for Sadie and checked out some dog treats.
“I got her from the Humane Society of Ocean City this past year,” Benson, of Dennisville, said as she looked at her white-faced pooch. “I couldn’t leave her there. She was nine-years-old. No one would have taken her. We came today because I want to support the shelter and what they do.”
The event theme was Pirate Island dress, where pet owners dressed up their dogs in cool costumes and enjoyed a day of music by Cosmic Charlie of the band Dead Reckoning. There were games, a dunk tank, contests, prizes and food.
Dog lovers and their companions even got to check out some agility courses and splash pools.
Stephanie DeRose and her 10-year-old son Anthony, of Ocean City, brought along Lily, their French bulldog, who was in costume.
Anthony proudly displayed a caricature of him with Lily.
“A friend of ours is a volunteer here,” Stephanie DeRose said. “This is such a great event for the shelter.”
Stacy Supplee, of Cape May Court House, brought her schnauzer, Toby, along for some fun, complete with a butterfly costume.
“It is just a nice thing to do to make a donation to the HSOC,” Supplee said.
The real highlight came by way of Australia.
Anthony and Rachel Amos, along with their children Bella, Austin and Aria, joined HSOC for the day.
The family took their mobile pet grooming business on a “Bathe to Save Tour” out of Australia and into the United States. So far, they have traveled to 45 states.
“We love America,” Anthony Amos said, speaking outside of their tour van that has a giant blue dog painted on it.
Their stop at the HSOC was welcomed by shelter employees and the community.
All the proceeds from the Bathe to Save pet washes, went back to HSOC.
Amos, who was being videoed by Animal Planet for a special, during Saturday’s event, said they are about a positive message.
“There is a movement going on. We came to the United States because we realized the euthanasia rate of dogs in shelters is high. We wanted to get out our message of how positive it is when a dog goes to a home. We are raising money that is going to save lives. We will drive 20 hours to save one life.”
Riley, a dog up for adoption at the HSOC, didn’t seem to mind a bath given by Austin Amos.
George Muller, a dog trainer at the HSOC, watched Riley gets soaped up and smiled.
He said the Amos family has done an incredible thing for HSOC and for all of the unwanted animals through their “Bathe to Save Tour.”
“The Amos family is awesome. All the money from the baths goes back to us. It is just really amazing,” Muller said.
Emery Keeler adopted her dog Jack from HSOC two years ago.
Jack just stepped off the mobile grooming van and into the hands of Keeler.
“He loves baths a lot,” Keeler said of her sparkling clean, companion, after he had his dip. “It is for a great cause.”
HSOC Director of Operations Phil Bellucci said the “Bathe to Save” event was really the best part of the day.
Bellucci said this year HSOC opted to do their celebration at the shelter, instead of at the Boardwalk. He said all the past years were very successful there, but it is important for people to know where the shelter is, since it is tucked away off Tennessee Avenue.
“We want people to know we are back here and people can come by and see us and see the animals.”
For Jessica Amoroso, her children Sophia, 9, Lilyanna, 7, Aurora, 6, and grandmother Bobbi Boyle, the day wouldn’t be complete without bringing their dog along. Steve, a 10-year-old pug mix, wore an “election suit.”
The family brought him to an HSOC event when it was on the Boardwalk.
“We love supporting the shelter. Steve was just a puppy when we took him years ago,” Jessica Amoroso said. “He won best dressed that year.”
For more information about HSOC visit hsocnj.org and for information about Bathe to Save go to www.bathetosave.com.