Spring has come, and the annual Dog Gone Easter Egg Hunt is here. This twelve-year tradition attracts dogs, adults and children to Lacey each year who want to spend part of their day hunting for eggs and enjoying plenty of snacks and prizes.
In addition to all the fun, attendees support Feline Friends with their entry fees and purchases. To learn more about Feline Friends and the work they do, we talked to Jennifer West. Jennifer has been a volunteer since 2006, and she stays busy as the foster home coordinator and regularly doing Saturday adoption events. For the past two years, with the help of several dedicated volunteers, she’s also coordinated the Dog Gone Easter Egg hunt. We talked to her about Feline Friends and the other organization they’re splitting the profits with this year.
MB: Before we talk about Feline Friends, could you tell us a little bit about the origins of this beloved event?
JW: While Feline Friends has always been one of the beneficiaries of the Dog Gone Easter Egg Hunt, it was Pet Connection Magazine who started the event twelve years ago. The person who started it had adopted a cat from Feline Friends. She had a great idea for an event, and she asked us if we wanted to be the beneficiaries of the event. And of course, we said that sounded awesome!
Two years ago, it made sense for Feline Friends to take over running the event. But it was such a smooth transition because Pet Connection Magazine had done all of the groundwork to make the event a success. There are so many people who look forward to the event each year, and so we’re happy to go ahead and keep this tradition going.
MB: For people who haven’t been to the Easter Egg Hunt, what should they expect?
JW: This is a well-attended event that starts at 10:00 a.m. and lasts until 3:00 p.m.at the Regional Athletic Complex at 8345 Steilacoom Road SE in Lacey, Washington. We have dog egg hunts at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. and a kid’s egg hunt at noon. We also have a 1:00 p.m. fashion show with plenty of prizes for the winners! The entry fee is $4 for adults and $1 for kids. If you want to enter the fashion show, it’s also $4 per entrant.
In addition to the egg hunts, there’s plenty of food and several local non-profits and vendors to visit during the event. Many people like to walk around and see all the different vendors that are there
This year, all the proceeds will be split between Feline Friends and Fences for Fido, which is a nonprofit that builds fences for outside dogs on chains. We’re so happy to support their work in this way, and we hope lots of people will attend to help the dogs and cats in our community!
MB: Could you tell us about the work that Feline Friends does?
JW: Feline Friends was started in 2000 by some very dedicated cat lovers who wanted to make a difference in this area. At the time, there weren’t many cat-specific rescues in Thurston County. We also focus on helping abused and neglected cats because there’s no one to advocate for them.
Feline Friends started as a network of foster homes. People would take cats into their homes and rehabilitate them and adopt them out of their homes. In 2005, Feline Friends was able to open a cat house and adoption center, which enabled us to help even more cats. And then we were able to attract even more volunteers, which also helped us help more cats.
Last year, the cats were able to pool their money to buy a property of their own. It was a tremendous step for us because we remain a 100-percent volunteer organization. And in addition to our own shelter, we still have a dedicated network of foster homes which are always willing to take a cat with kittens in need and to provide them with a stable home environment until adoption.
MB: Like most of the Pacific Northwest, Thurston County has experienced tremendous growth. Do you feel that the need has increased or decreased since Feline Friends started?
JW: It’s definitely increased! We’ve seen a big population increase, but we haven’t seen a lot of new animal welfare shelters to help with the increased demand. It’s also hard for even large shelters to keep up with the needs of the area, and we serve primarily Thurston and Mason Counties.
As the population has increased, we’ve seen more animals being abandoned and more unwanted animals being born. Unfortunately, most of the shelters in the area are always full because people who need to surrender animals come to us or other shelters.
Luckily, we’ve seen a lot of great animal welfare organizations in the King County area reach out to help area shelters. Some organizations are able to take adoptable animals as they have room, which is a tremendous help to the area. Right now, it’s a real team effort to meet the needs of Thurston’s animal population, and every dollar we get goes to that mission.***
Feline Friends is a 100-percent volunteer animal welfare organization dedicated to helping cats in Thurston and Mason County. To find out more about their work or to donate, please visit their website at www.feline-friends.net/.