By Natalie Anderson
SALISBURY – Local pet owners let the dogs out on Sunday at Pitner Dog Park during Woofstock 2021.
The Woofstock Festival, which began in 2017, raises funds for the Pitner Dog Park, located behind the Salisbury Civic Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.
Event coordinator Alyssa Sides said profits from Woofstock would go towards adding trees, benches and toys to the park. Although the first event took place in 2017, this year’s event was the first to feature vendors, food, beer, and music. All vendor registration fees were donations. Sides estimates that thousands of dollars have been raised to date, with at least $ 500 coming from Sunday’s event.
“What you’re trying to do is promote socialization between dogs and between people in a safe and open environment,” Sides said. “So we wanted to do this festival, especially in the midst of what’s going on, to get people back and let them know.”
Sharon Earnhardt, a resident of Salisbury, remembers attending the Woofstock fundraisers before the park opened in 2019. Her dog, Puck, was a 100-pound borzoi who was the biggest in attendance each year. Puck has since passed away, but Hannibal, 9 months old, spent a sunny Sunday at the dog park alongside Poppy, a Borzoi female.
“It’s great to have a fenced area where you can bring dogs and let them socialize with others and let them play in a controlled atmosphere,” Earnhardt said.
Poppy owner and Salisbury resident Jeannie Ramsey said events like the annual Woofstock help encourage the adoption of pets from shelters rather than buying from breeders. She added that professionally bred dogs usually have homes, but when someone decides to breed their dogs with a neighbor, for example, there can be a litter of 10 puppies that don’t have a home.
“It’s important for events like this because there aren’t enough people around to spay and neuter their pets,” Ramsey said. “I think when you organize events like this it helps to bring attention to this sort of thing.”
Tracey Kyles, owner of professional dog walking and boarding business Soul Mutts, said Woofstock is helping to raise awareness of the different services available to pet owners. She would like to see the more dog friendly atmospheres experienced in Charlotte and Kannapolis “seep all the way to Salisbury”.
“I really like seeing this net at Salisbury. And the more that happens, the more pet-friendly businesses will come to help us grow locally, ”she said. “I think the pet industry is booming so people really want to do something with their pets. So I think events like this are great for bringing together pet owners as well as pet businesses that may not know each other. “
Sides said she aspires to see the annual Woofstock event grow into a bigger community event. She said the Department of Parks and Recreation is making efforts to require pet owners to register their pets for free and get a swipe card on every visit to the park to better track the volume. In addition, future safety measures will include a requirement for dogs to be up to date with their vaccinations before visiting the park.
“Usually when you come here there are dogs here,” Sides said. “So we know it’s stable. We just need to raise awareness that it’s here.
As a handful of local dogs roamed, Theresa Pitner, president of the nonprofit Dog Parks and Walks, spoke to pet owners about what their dogs’ behavior and temperament indicated about their energy and their level of contentment. Pitner operates an Understanding Your Dog training center on East Council Street.
The Pineapple Plug was created to offer wings, fries, chicken bowls, hot dogs, and vegetarian options, while The Buzzed Viking Brewing Company provided beer. Other Woodstock vendors featured dog grooming, dog training, and homemade crafts such as small animal medicine and surgery and Soul Mutts. Animal lovers could also donate and participate in raffles for their furry friends.
Additionally, PAWS’s Tracy Crotts guided the dogs through agility classes and asked them to do various tricks. A fiery Chinese crested dog named Sugar put on a show and didn’t shy away from the crowds of people he drew over.
Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.