Pets in Walker County will have their own special day this Saturday.
Jasper's annual Pets on Parade will be held at Gamble Park on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon for dogs, cats and other beloved pets to shine in a number of categories, including cutest, best costume, best trained, most unusual, owner look-alike, best wiggle butt, best kisses and best in talking.
The entry fee for each category is $5, with proceeds benefiting the Walker County Humane Society's spay and neuter program.
"Every penny will go toward spaying and neutering," Walker County Humane Society board director Susie Vann said. "Last year we paid for 983 surgeries for people in Walker County, and this year, already, we've authorized over 800."
The animal rescue organization has held numerous spay/neuter clinics over the past few years in Walker County for cats and dogs, free of charge, and the group has been successful in securing the adoption of over 900 cats. The cats have been adopted through a partnership with Jasper's Pet Depot, where cats are available for adoption daily at the store.
"That has been a phenomenal outlet," Vann said.
Proceeds from Pets on Parade will also be used for the rescue's trap-neuter-return (TNR) efforts. Cat colonies in Walker County have been greatly reduced through TNR by trapping feral cats, spaying or neutering them, and then returning them to their natural habitat.
Saturday's Pets on Parade will also feature several vendors.
Fetch! Pet Care will provide pet owners with information about their dog walking, pet sitting and other services, and the business will also have a cooling station for dogs.
Locally-owned company Ellie's Pet Supply will be on hand to advertise their mail-order company for pet supplies.
The Daily Mountain Eagle is partnering with the Pets on Parade event this year, with the “Best in Show” winner automatically earning a spot in the "2020 Walker County Pet Calendar,” which the newspaper publishes every other year. A portion of the revenue from votes and calendar sales are donated to the Walker County Humane Society.
“Our pet calendar is a popular project, and we are happy to partner this year with Pets on Parade to kickoff our call for entries for the calendar contest,” DME Publisher James Phillips said.
DME representatives will be at Pets on Parade to enter pets into the calendar contest. Entry forms will be available that day, and the entry fee of $10 will be open to the first 50 applicants. The first day to enter will be Saturday at the event, with the entry period continuing through the following Friday at 5 p.m. An entry form and rules for the contest will be in the Sunday edition of the Eagle.
Pet owners will be able to enjoy live music, raffles, and Jasper Mayor David O'Mary will be grilling hamburgers and hot dogs on Saturday.
Tallulah the dog will emcee the event, with the help of her handler, Mike Putman. Ribbons will be presented for first, second and third place in all categories, as well as honorable mentions.
Pets on Parade is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County's Junior Ambassadors. Jim 'N Nicks and Coca-Cola are also listed as event supporters.
For those not entering a pet in categories, the event is free.
"We're excited about it," Chamber President Linda Lewis said. "This is our 18th year to do Pets on Parade. Each year it gets a little bit bigger."
Lewis said the event typically brings in $1,000 for the Walker County Humane Society.
"We would love to see that number doubled, strictly because of the number of people that need help right now," Vann said, acknowledging the rescue's funding is low. "We're hoping for a big turnout to be able to help many more residents of Walker County get their animals spayed and neutered."