Woofstock 2015 Through the Lens of Dog Rescue Groups
Arriving after 1:30 pm with a wagon full of pups for our annual outing at Woofstock, I couldn’t help but notice a trove of people and dogs gathered dead center in the Woodbine park venue. What, no signs needed, no volunteers at hand to direct us this year? What a pleasant surprise! Unlike previous years where the dog rescue groups were marginalized in sidelined locations, hidden behind trees or even on other streets altogether, every vendor and organization was all in the same area. We discovered a big circle of vendors, rescues and food trucks with the main stage present at the top of the ring. When I think about it, it was more the shape of a dog’s paw!
Being the owner of three rescue dogs, as well as a pet sitter whose clients rely on my being up to date on pet care issues, I have my various reasons for attending Woofstock year after year. This would be my eleventh year attending the Toronto dog festival with my little blind Morkie Austin. However, my first order of business is always seeing which rescue groups are taking part with booths, and what they’re up to.
Admittedly, there seemed to be a lack of Woofstock volunteers visible. There was no one available to hand out a map/guide to where each participant was located in the ring, but then again it really wasn’t needed, except for the fact that the dog rescue groups were also omitted from the website, so we didn’t know in advance which dog rescue groups we would find.
Good News and Bad News for WoofStock Dog Rescue Groups
We could locate only six rescue groups with booths at Woofstock 2015. Disappointing, but understandable given the back story. Apparently Woofstock organizers provided late notice to the rescue groups, late enough that there wasn’t time for them to arrange to attend the Toronto dog festival. Unlike for-profit corporations who have marketing budgets, not-for-profit and charity dog rescue organizations typically have to raise extra funds – as well as many extra volunteer hours – in order to take part in a dog festival special event like this one.
Independent dog rescue groups present included Speaking of Dogs, Westies in Need , Happy Tails Rescue, Canadian Newfie Rescue Inc., National Great Pyrenees Rescue. Animal shelters were represented as well, namely Toronto Animal Services; Etobicoke Humane Society and Toronto Humane Society were billed on the website.
The good news is that the “dog rescue village” was in the same area as the vendors. Everyone was in the same area in a big circle with the main stage at the top of the ring. Seems like an obvious arrangement, but in the most recent previous year, they had been delegated to a separate area of the Woddbine park, supported by absolutely no on-site signage, and very much out of the natural traffic flow. A year before that, the dog rescue village was located so far away they were literally on another street!
Not many dog rescue groups had actual rescued dogs on hand for adoption, with Happy Tails and Canadian Newfie being the exceptions.
I was able to speak to most of the dog rescue volunteers about how they felt about this years events. We talked about how Woofstock officials were treating them this year. Happily, they responded quite favourably. The dog rescue volunteers liked that they weren’t hidden away on the other side of the park. The attention they were getting this year with the exposure in the main circle was so much more effective and inclusive. Dog rescue group booths were set up between the corporate vendors and food vendors with enough of the park backing them that they could safely tend to their rescue dogs in attendance. Overall, they were happy with the treatment they received.
No word yet from official Woofstock personnel on the attendance numbers by the general public, though the shuttle bus service may have helped with those who did not want to battle traffic with over-excited pooches. The effects of dog festivals like Woofstock for dog rescue groups tends to become evident either right away – with donations received right then and there – or are more of a slow burn. That is to say the exposure for the groups and the individual dogs needing a furever home works its magic over time.
Coming up next – pet care bargains at Woofstock 2015!
Visit Gayle Wilson and her good works with dog rescue on Furever Network Discovery of Goodwill