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Bark in the Park celebrates 10 years

DUNCAN, Okla._The Stephens County Humane Society is gearing up for the 10th annual Bark in the Park.

Each year, the fundraising event is held at Duncan's Fuqua Park. This is the Stephens County Humane Society's biggest event to raise money to help meet the veterinary needs of dogs and cats that come in. Last year, they raised $44,000 and they hope to raise $50,000 this year. They raise the money through donations, contests, raffles, bake sales and T-shirt sales.

After 11 months of work organizing Bark in the Park, they expect up to 2,000 people to stop by throughout the day. Owners get to show off their best friends and many hopeful dogs will find a new home. Nicole Baldwin, director of the Stephens County Humane Society, says that is all she is hoping for.

"I usually set goals pretty high for us here. My goal is that my kennels are empty at the end of the day, and we can start new come Monday," Baldwin said.

Bark in the Park will have fun activities—such as dog costume contests, a strut your mutt parade and best owner look-alike will be judged—but it is also an educational event. Baldwin says she wants people to understand the importance of spaying and neutering their pets.

"I don't think people realize, until they see how many dogs we have out there, that the bulk of these animals came in not altered," Baldwin explained.

And that’s exactly what the money raised at Bark in the Park goes to, among running heart worming tests, feline leukemia tests and other veterinary needs.

"Without this big fundraiser, we wouldn't be able to continue what we're doing," Baldwin said.

Other veterinary services will be offered at Bark in the Park as well, such as reduced micro chipping and rabies vaccinations. 

"It's a service we can help provide someone else's animal. We try not only to take care of our animals, but any animal that we can help," Baldwin said.

Animals are Baldwin's passion and Saturday is a day she has a couple of reasons to be excited about.

"It's a tie between adopting animals into new homes and getting to see all the animals that we've adopted over the last five years plus that come to Bark in the Park," Baldwin said.

Baldwin says they have 30 dogs that are up for adoption and will be there along with a few of their cats. Bark in the Park starts at 11:00 a.m. and last until 3:00 p.m.

There are six dog contests at the event and each one costs $5 to enter.

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