The Ottumwa Courier

February 22, 2014

"Hog" lovers help dog lovers

Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA --- Community members looking for assistance with pet care attended an event put on by Hogs4Dogs USA.

"This is our second annual K9 Clinic," said one of the organizers, Tammie Hartley. "There are low-cost vaccinations and micro-chipping."

The group, which tends to attract motorcycle enthusiasts and animal lovers, has several well-known fundraisers every year revolving around those two interests. Yet the gathering at the Elks Lodge on Saturday was not about raising money.

"We focus on the health and well being of pets via several different fundraising events. [But] this event is done as a community service," said Hartley. "This [initiative] is really a one-stop shop."

Animals could get a microchip Saturday, grooming, a portrait photo, vaccinations, even City dog tages. Though there were things for humans to do, like get educated by a local animal charity or buy a box of Girl Scout cookies. But the animals were the focus, especially dogs.

One item important to organizers and visitors was a certificate good for $50 when bringing a dog for spaying or neutering at one of two different animal hospitals in Ottumwa.

"Our main purpose... is to control the unwanted pet population," Hartley said.

A visitor said the Hogs4Dogs USA event was certainly going to make a difference for her pet. Cheryl Bennett of Ottumwa was accompanied by her granddaughter. Each had a dog with them.

"I think this is a wonderful program," Bennett told the Courier. "I'm on a limited income. I wouldn't be able to do this without their help."

Her dogs will get spayed or neutered, and they'd already been micro-chipped on Saturday, as well as vaccinated. Social security income doesn't really go far enough to make even a small surgical procedure affordable, Bennett said.

Now, she'll be able to have her dog fixed, she added.

She said it meant a lot that there was a group committed to helping animals --- and their owners. Another attendee said it was nice to see all the people who were so happy spending time with their animals.

Last year, more than 80 people attended the Hogs4Dogs clinic. With hours left to go Saturday, Hartley said they were on track to pass 100.

Two of the dogs attending Saturday during just one five-minute period included a Siberian husky, with two different colored eyes, and there was one chihuahua who barked angrily--- until picked up and cuddled.

News reporter Mark Newman is on Twitter @couriermark