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Dogs and owners raise money for TAILS at Mutt Strut

DeKALB – The sounds of barking were never so loud at Hopkins Park than on Saturday.

Dozens of dogs and their owners attended the TAILS Humane Society’s eighth annual Mutt Strut Dogwalk, Funfest and 5K-9. The event raised money for TAILS and allowed participants to socialize and participate in various activities.

DeKalb resident Melanie Parks, dressed in pink with two Maltese dogs and a stroller for her dog whose leg was sprained, said it’s fun to meet and socialize with other dog owners.

“Dog people are awesome people,” she said. “It’s always fun to hear about rescue stories.”

Parks adopted her dogs from Northcentral Maltese Rescue in Racine, Wis.

The event also featured a police dog demonstration, adoption opportunities, agility equipment and Ford test-driving, where Brad Manning Ford dealership donated $20 for each person who test-drove one of their cars.

Tom Van Winkle, TAILS director of development and community outreach, said the fundraiser was one of the biggest events for the organization all year.

The goal was to raise $30,000. TAILS raised money through registration for the dog walk and 5K-9, where some people ran the race with their dogs, Van Winkle said.

“The idea is to encourage people to bring their dogs, and by having it outside, it forms a connection between pets and the owners,” he said.

Stephanie Berglund drove from Naperville to attend the event. One of Berglund’s dogs, named Freddy, was adopted from TAILS a few months ago.

“He’s wonderful,” she said. “He loves other people. He’s energetic, and he’s super friendly.”

Freddy is also a well-mannered dog. He sits in his dog crate all day and waits until his owners come home, and he doesn’t chew on the furniture, Berglund said.

“He knows the difference between my shoes and his chew toys,” she said.

Many TAILS volunteers and staff members were at the event to tell people about the organization’s services. The no-kill shelter has about 40 dogs at any given time plus about 100 in foster home care. TAILS has about 2,000 to 2,500 adoptions per year.

Ashley Kramer, TAILS staff member and kettle technician, said their organization is unique among shelters in the area because visitors have free access to look at the animals as opposed to filling out paperwork to do so, which is a requirement at other places, she said.

“We do a counseling process where you fill out a survey about your lifestyle and ability to train to match your needs,” Kramer said.

All dogs at TAILS are vaccinated and quarantined when they are first brought in before they are exposed to other dogs, said TAILS volunteer Ross Elliman.

Debbie Paul, whose husband is the owner of Brett Paul Photography and one of TAILS’ biggest financial contributors, said she feels bad when animals aren’t properly taken care of.

“If I ever won the lottery, I would get a big building and get people to take care of them,” Paul said. “I don’t know what we’d do without [my pets]. They’re like family. We just love them.”

Brett Paul agrees. He said he will continue to donate to TAILS as long as he is able because he is an animal lover.

“I don’t think animals have a voice, so we’re here for the animals,” he said.

To donate to TAILS, visit

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