St. Patrick’s Day may have passed, but there is still time to celebrate the Luck of the Irish — or at least an Irish setter.
On Saturday, April 12, the fourth annual Erin Go Paw Fest will take place in the Oakleigh Historic Garden District in Midtown Mobile. The dog-friendly street party benefits the Friends of the Mobile Animal Shelter, a non-profit group that works with the city of Mobile’s shelter.
“The shelter does not have a big budget, so this really helps,” said Cheryl Shifflet, the manager at Callaghan’s Irish Social Club and an organizer of the event. “There are fundraisers throughout the year, but this is by far their biggest.”
Shifflet said Mobile is rare in offering a “no healthy kill” shelter, where workers try and save every animal that is brought to them.
“The biggest expense is health issues,” Shifflet said. “The shelter works so the animals can be adopted out. They all have their vaccinations, and have been spayed or neutered.”
Shifflet said the Erin Go Paw Fest came about when she was looking to get involved with a project. A dog lover herself, she knew about the problem of homeless animals in the OGD, and decided to try and help the creatures.
“The shelter works tirelessly to keep these animals from being put down,” Shifflet said. “I have tried on my own to help a homeless dog and her puppies, so I know how much work is involved. The shelter does a pretty amazing job, and I have personally seen them take care of several dogs that I have found on the streets and given to them.”
Activities will begin that Saturday at 2 p.m. with the Green Dress Run for Shelter, which was added to the lineup last year. The events include a 5-kilometer run/walk and a 2-mile K9 Walk. The races will start and finish at Washington Square, with the course going through the OGD. Shifflet encourages all participants to join in the fun by wearing a green dress.
Participants may register by mail (entries must be postmarked by April 5), in person at either McCoy Outdoor or Run-N-Tri in Mobile, or in Fairhope at Running Wild until noon on April 10, or online at http://greendressrunforshelter5k.eventbrite.com until midnight on April 10. Race day registration and packet pick-up will be from 12:30 to 1:50 p.m. at Washington Square.
Pre-registration is $25 for adults and $15 for youth ages 12 and under. On race day, the fees increase to $30 and $20, respectively. Checks should be made out to FOMAS, and can be mailed to Run For Rescue, LRH Productions, Box 6976, Mobile, AL 36660.
The fees include a race shirt and a ticket for the Erin Go Paw Fest that follows the run. For those participants who do not want a shirt, they can subtract $3 from the fees.
The sign-up form said dogs may participate for free, but “they must keep their people on short leases.”
Awards will go to the top male and female overall runners, and the top male and female age group finishers.
New sponsors for the races are Abita, Good People and SweetWater beers.
Once the running is finished, the action will move down the street to Callaghan’s for “yappie hour” from 3 to 7 p.m. Cherish Lombard from WALA-FOX 10 will serve as emcee at the award ceremony. Music will be presented by both Julie Anne Sellers and the band Peek.
A tent will be set up outside of Callaghan’s and the street will be blocked off from automobile traffic. For those wishing to bring their animals and join the fun, the admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children. Vendors will be present to sell items for animals. There will also be a silent auction, with such items as gift baskets and artwork.
“Callaghan’s is giving a portion of their sales from that day to the cause,” Shifflet said. “Last year, Erin Go Paw raised $10,000 for the Friends of the Mobile Animal Shelter. We are hoping for an even bigger turnout this year.”
Although the deadline to be a sponsor has passed, those wishing to help can still mail in tax-deductible donations to The Friends of the Mobile Animal Shelter, 855 Owens St., Mobile, AL 36604.
For additional information, call 251-208-2830 or visit www.adoptapetmobile.org. to see entertaining images from previous Erin Go Paw Fests, you may visit Callaghan’s Facebook photo album page.