Last year, COVID took the world by a storm. The pandemic and social-distancing restrictions forced many organizations to cancel or adapt to virtual events on short notice.
This year, with much more time to prepare, the Animal Welfare Association (AWA) will host its 24th annual Paws and Feet event virtually as a four-day event. The event is AWA’s largest fundraiser, and the association hopes to raise $50,000 this year. The proceeds will go toward shelter and medical care for the more than 2,000 homeless dogs and cats adopted from the AWA each year.
“Prior to adoption, all animals are spayed or neutered, dewormed (often the first in a series of treatments that should be completed by the adoptive family), heartworm tested (and treated if necessary), treated for fleas, (brought) up to date with age appropriate vaccinations and microchipped,” explained Jeana Hoffman, AWA’s event manager.
Where in past years, attendees would gather at Cooper River to run or walk a 5K or participate in the Smile Mile with pets, this year, they are encouraged to do the walk on their own. Though there will not be the usual food, music or festivities after the walk, there will be a virtual comedy show by Dena Blizzard on Wednesday, May 19, followed by a Zoom Night with Astala Vista — a self-proclaimed Crazy Cat Lady of Drag — on Thursday, May 20.
“It’s been hard this past year, so we really want people to still feel like they’re in a community together,” said Hoffman. “That’s why we chose Zoom instead of a webinar, so they can interact with each other, interact with their host. The first night is more dog-focused and the second is more cat-focused.”
The evenings will also include dog-and-cat trivia games, raffles, and an open marketplace for attendees. During the four-day Paws and Feet, several local restaurants will participate in dine-and-donate programs, where an eatery donates 10 to 20 percent of its proceeds to the AWA. The donation programs are open to all, not just attendees. On Wednesday, May 19, Chuck Lager in Barrington and Turning Point Marlton will participate. On Thursday May 20, Bertucci’s in Marlton will do so. On Friday, May 21, it will be Panera Bread in Voorhees, and on Saturday, May 22, Ott’s in Berlin.
Registration is $50 for the basic ticket and $100 for a premium ticket, which includes everything the basic ticket does but also features a swag bag. Registrants will receive a Paws and Feet Commemorative T-Shirt, AWA signature games to play at home, access to five AWA virtual training classes and the two nights of entertainment that start at 6 p.m. on both May 19 and May 20. Early registrants will get access to AWA Zoom training classes that will be free from March through May 22.
Registration and more information can be found at https://support.awanj.org/paws-and-feet-register-2021.