From its tranquil, wooded location — and before the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, one Lutz church hosted an event that was for the dogs — and, the cats.
The Unity North Tampa church, 19520 Holly Lane, had its first annual Pet Adoption Fair.
The Rev. Virginia Walsh scampered around the church hall, as the event began, talking about why the church wanted to host an adoption fair dedicated to the animals.
The church moved to its current location, from Tampa, in June 2018.
Despite being set back slightly from the hustle and bustle of North Dale Mabry Highway, the property is quiet, and serene — featuring tall pines and grand oaks.
In the past, the church’s pet blessings have tended to be popular because people love their pets like family members, the church leader said.
This year, her congregation thought that it would be a wonderful idea to host an event on the church’s spacious property, and to invite the community to attend.
And, the idea for the Pet Adoption Fair was born.
Before the reverend rushed outdoors to bless a pooch, she declared passionately: “We are excited to support finding good homes for these animals.”
Seven adoption agencies took part in the inaugural event. They were Pasco County Animal Services, SPCA Suncoast, Dachshunds Seeking Forever Home Rescue, Tampa Bay Cat Alliance, Tampa Bay Humane Society, Barking Out Loud Rescue, and A Promised Land Animal Rescue.
Many brought animals that were ready to be adopted that day.
A half-dozen vendors set up shop around the property, offering various food items, crafts, and pet gear and supplies.
Ann Ottaviano, of Carrollwood, and her adult daughter, Laura, came to the Pet Adoption Fair to find a companion for Ann’s 8-year-old partially blind Corgi and French bulldog mix, Scrappy.
She adopted Scrappy 17 months ago from a shelter. He was severely abused, and had a bad case of heartworm. He was found in a cage; his front teeth are missing from trying to bite his way out.
Scrappy also endured the unthinkable.
Someone poured scalding hot water over his back, resulting in severe, visible burns.
When Ann saw him for the first time, in this poor condition, she really didn’t think of his issues. “I was sitting next to him at the kennel, and he looked up to me, and that was it. It was my intuition that I needed this dog.” She also said, “Dogs don’t need to be perfect.”
Her vet suggested that she get Scrappy a companion dog now, before he was completely without sight, to help him and comfort him in blindness.
She ended up adopting Maggie May, a 3-year-old black mouth cur, that was one of the 10 dogs arriving to the event with Claudia Beaver, the founder/director of the Barking Out Loud Rescue. Beaver’s agency is located in Lorida, in Highlands County.
Maggie May was rescued from a Lake Placid ranch. Black mouth curs are dogs specifically bred for hunting and herding cattle. So, when she proved not to be a good farmworker, she was placed in a kennel, where she lived her whole life, before being rescued.
Before their blessing, Scrappy and Maggie May got acquainted with each other for the first time. As she watched them sniff each other’s face, Ann was confident that this pup will make a wonderful addition to her family.
Besides adoptions and blessings, the fair featured a bake sale and vendors.
The bake sale, held inside the church, offered patrons a selection of goodies, including brownies, red velvet cupcakes, snickerdoodle cookies, muffins, and bottled water.
There was a free chance drawing, too, for a gift certificate from Pet Supermarket.
Proceeds from the pet blessing donations and from the bake sale will support the church’s ministry.
Published April 1, 2020
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