Gulfport Gets Rescued

Wanda Rothrock, a teacher at Gulfport Montessori Elementary School, pets a skunk at a Saturday’s Get Rescued event. Members of the Florida Skunk Rescue in Hudson were offering “skunky hugs” for $1 to raise money. A native of the Poconos in Pennsylvania, Rothrock says she has a soft spot for skunks and that her family once even adopted a litter of them. “I like the scent … when you’re driving down a country road and it’s a little diluted,” she said. “It reminds me of home.”

Visitors to Gulfport’s Get Rescued – a celebration of pets and rescue groups from throughout the region – flooded the city on a gorgeous Saturday, February 25, many with their own animals in tow in strollers or on leashes. They went gaga over the animals, sampled food and drink, shopped for pet-related crafts and goods and listened to music. Gulfport’s Get Rescued street fair, now in its 13th year, featured animals ranging from skunks and tiny horses to more common cats and dogs, along with organizations raising money for their specific breeds. There were also contests for best costume, best nose and best kisser, as well as demonstrations by police canine units. Profits from the event, which was followed by an evening fundraiser at the Casino, are distributed among participating non-profit rescue groups. The Gulfport Merchants Association hosts the annual pet fest.

Nancy McCormack of Clearwater poses Saturday with some of the animals she rescues and finds homes for. “I have nine dogs, seven cats and a bird,” she said. Eight of the dogs were with her at the Get Rescued event. “I just rescue what desperately needs help right then,” she said. “I’ve given many, many away.” 




These dogs brought to the Get Rescued event by the True and Faithful Pet Rescue Mission of Venice remained on the lookout late Saturday afternoon for someone to give them a forever home. Group founder Lisa Letson said five dogs had been adopted at the event, including the dachshund in the cage still awaiting pick-up. The group specializes in senior dogs, which can be harder to place. “The seniors are much more rewarding,” said Roger Velazquez, who oversees the house where some 30 dogs rescued by the group live. “They give back 10 times,” Letson added.


Patricia Thaison of St. Petersburg, left, and Christine Klaff of Pinellas Park, with Jackie, a Pomeranian mix that Thaison inherited when her aunt passed away in Chicago. “At first we weren’t going to keep her because we had five cats,” Thaison said. “But she grew on us and now she’s the princess of the house.”

Deborah Martohue of St. Petersburg, right, watches as vendor Renee Scandora of the R.U.F.F. Rescue’s Doggie Boutique and Treats suggests different hats and costumes for Martohue’s two Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Ella, right, and Cooper. “We’ve been buying them everything today,” said Martohue. She said her dogs love dressing up and have their own bureau for all their clothes.

Lace, a 15-week-old grey tabby, sits in her litter box late Saturday afternoon after a long day at the Get Rescued event. She was brought by Carmen Mason, founder of Tampa-based Cat Haven Rescue, along with eight other cats and a dog. Mason said three kittens had been adopted and the dog, a pitbull, was going on a home visit the following day as a result of the event.

Beethoven, a blind and deaf 16-year-old Maltese, sits in a camp chair in the booth of his owner, Sue Sweeney of Sarasota, at Saturday’s Get Rescued. Sweeney, who sells handbags, says Beethoven loves to go to fairs with her because although he can’t see or hear, he can still smell what’s going on around him. “He comes to all the markets with me,” she said.




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