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The hidden costs of ‘Puppy Palooza’

'Puppy Palooza' was a hit in University Yard last spring. Hatchet File Photo
‘Puppy Palooza’ was a hit in University Yard last spring. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Catherine Mullins.

A group of animal rescue volunteers behind “Puppy Palooza” will not return to campus this year after organizers said last spring’s event strained resources without bringing in donations or adoptions.

Dave Liedman, a director of the organization City Dogs Rescue, said the group could not afford to spend resources on events like GW’s because taking care of shelter dogs, particularly their medical care, is costly.

“Asking rescue volunteers who want to save dogs from euthanasia in shelters to put on an event to help college students relax and have fun is a waste of valuable resources,” Liedman said, adding that his organization would only consider participating for at least a $2,000 donation.

City Dogs Rescue participated in the event last spring to raise awareness for their cause, and while the group was not contacted about the event this month, organizers said they are now focused on adoption and fundraising events.

“These types of events are generally difficult for us to participate in,” the group’s other director, Darren Binder, said. “It took a lot of coordination with foster families and volunteers to ensure that we had the event properly staffed with sufficient dogs on hand.”

While GW organizers did not promise the organization that dogs would be adopted, the University did pay the shelter an administrative fee last spring, though Binder would not disclose the amount. Organizers with the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation, which brought a litter of puppies to the event last spring, did not return multiple requests for comment.

Another D.C. shelter, the Washington Animal Rescue League, will still bring about five dogs to campus this fall. “Puppy Playdate,” as the event is now called, will be held in Anniversary Park on F Street, instead of University Yard, where hundreds crowded last spring to visit with a dozen dogs and puppies.

Natalie Kahla, the Washington Animal Rescue League’s adoption manager, said GW agreed to pay the shelter a $200 administrative fee this year. While this type of event is rare for her organization, she said she hopes the event will “get the word out about adoptions.”

Associate Dean of Students Tim Miller, who owns two rescue dogs, said GW agreed to pay fees to offset costs for the shelters, but said he did not want the student-centered event to turn into a fundraising drive.

“I’m not going to ask students to donate when the whole purpose of the event is to help students de-stress,” he said.

Last year’s event was also sponsored by eight GW organizations, including the Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Education and the University Counseling Center.

“Puppy Playdate” will be held Oct. 29 at 11 a.m.

Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.

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