By Andrea Cordle
Mari Ann Binder-Futty has noticed that residents of the westside sure do love their pets.
She said she looks out her front door and sees her neighbors walking their dogs at all hours of the day at Westgate Park. People bring their dogs to the Westgate Farmer’s Market and to popular events like the Bean Dinner and Summer Jam. When someone is missing their dog or cat, the whole community responds to reunite the family members.
“This neighborhood is nutty about pets,” said Binder-Futty.
She said this is what inspired the inaugural Westgate Wags and Whiskers event, that will take place from noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 10 at the West Gate Lodge, 2925 West Broad St. in Columbus.
Binder-Futty is a volunteer with the Westgate Neighbors Association and was the founding president of the neighborhood group. So, when this idea came to her about two years ago, she reached out to her neighbors that are a part of the association to get the ball rolling.
They started a committee last August to plan the event.
“It just seems like a natural fit,” she said. “There is nothing like this on the westside.”
Westgate Wags and Whiskers will be presented by the Westgate Neighbors Association. Brewdog Franklinton is a sponsor of the event and will have a Howl at the Moon Pet Bar offering guests fresh water and treats. Schoedinger Pets is also a part of the event and is sponsoring artwork involving the Rainbow Bridge.
According to Binder-Futty, the art piece is an eight-foot-long portrait of the Rainbow Bridge, a popular poem that has provided comfort to humans when their pet dies. This portrait, along with a Rainbow Bridge throw, will be featured as part of the Red Rover Rrrraffle. The raffle will also include pet products, as well as gift cards from Bark Box and Hollywood Casino to name a few.
Proceeds from the Red Rover Rrrraffle will benefit pet and animal charities.
“I don’t know which one yet, but it is important for us to raise money for disadvantaged pets,” said Binder-Futty.
The free event is open to all pets and their humans. It will feature pet-centered artists, businesses, and services, as well as pet rescue organizations, contests, activities, and food trucks.
According to Binder-Futty, about 20 vendors have already signed up to be a part of the event, though they are looking for more vendors and more items for the raffle.
Though this is the first time for the event, Binder-Futty said she hopes people from beyond the westside will attend.
“We are throwing out a wide net,” she said.
She said she hopes Wags and Whiskers will turn into an annual event.
“In five years, we hope to rake in a lot of money to help pets.”
Binder-Futty is also thinking beyond the event. She said she would like to see a pet mural on the westside of town, like the “Welcome to Dogedin” mural in Dunedin, Fla., which sits on the side of a bar and features hundreds of pets that belong to city residents.
“I dream we can do a mural that has pets on it,” she said.
For more information on the event, to become a vendor, or donate a raffle item, visit westgateneighbors.org/overview/westgate-wags-and-whiskers.