One of the first street festivals hosted by the Gulfport Merchants Chamber in 2021, Gulfport’s Get Rescued will be bursting with furry energy up and down Beach Boulevard on Saturday, February 27 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“These rescues really rely on us,” said GMC President Barbara Banno. “Post COVID, we may not have as much food donated or donations, but we’re going to do everything we can for these rescues.”
The event is one large fundraiser for Florida-based animal rescues; more than 30 organizations and up to 70 pet-friendly vendors will decorate the Gulfport street for the 17th year.
“This really is a beloved tradition,” event organizer Suzie King, owner of SIK Promotions, said. “Get Rescued was the last street festival hosted by the Gulfport Merchant’s Chamber in 2020; we’re really excited to get to have it this year.”
Nearly a year later, the world has changed, and so has Gulfport’s furriest festival.
Attendees will pass through one of two entrances, each with a temperature check. Festival patrons with no sign of fever will be permitted entry, with a wristband to show for it.
“Volunteers will be surveying the festival; anyone without a wristband will be steered toward the exit,” King said. “Masks will definitely be enforced.”
Also on tap for the day, the Florida Wiener Dog Derby will trot off at 2 p.m. and attendees will be able to drop pet-related donations at the front entrance of the Gulfport Casino.
Coco, a resident of The Historic Peninsula Inn since 2018 and Gulfport’s pet mayor, will greet Gulfportians to celebrate her reign.
More at fb.com/getrescued.
Hug a Skunk
They require a permit, use a litter box and are legally required to have their scent glands removed in adolescence. Skunks are becoming a popular pet choice for fans of niche critters, so they need an organization that understands their quirks.
That’s where Florida Skunk Rescue comes in. President Brenda Hoch and her team of skunk foster parents at the nonprofit take in abandoned animals and work to find them homes.
“Shelters won’t take them in because they’re considered exotic animals,” Hoch said. “People get rid of them just like they would a cat or a dog, but they can’t just put them in a shelter.”
Hoch spotted her first skunk – “Spike” – at a pet store in the early 2000s.
“They are actually really quiet, like a mix of a cat and a dog,” Hoch said. “They don’t chew wires or anything, but they may dig up a carpet because they’re natural burrowers.”
In 2021, she’s running Florida Skunk Rescue out of her home, and with many volunteers, but she can’t do it without support.
“We don’t make any money re-homing the skunks,” Hoch said with a laugh. “We rely on donations.”
Hoch and a gaggle of black-and-white companions will accept donations and educate the public at Get Rescued.
“We’re doing hugs for $1 all day,” Hoch said.
More at floridaskunkrescue.com.
Tiny Paws, Horse Sized Dogs
Limbo Chihuahuas and Giant Dog Rescue have the same goals, on the opposite ends of the spectrum.
The idea is to re-home, rescue and support the breeds, no matter how large or small.
“Chihuahuas get a bad rap. People want to automatically assume that they are loud and aggressive,” said Limbo Chihuahua Director Susan Adams. “It’s the same as any dog, it’s how they’re raised.”
Five hundred teeny rescues have come in and out of Limbo’s foster homes, and Get Rescued will have several adoptable, and already adopted, friends to represent the nonprofit.
“Stewie, our Chihuahua with one leg amputated was really popular online,” Adams said. “He’s already adopted, but he’ll be saying hello to everyone.”
Towering over the purse-sized rescues, Giant Dog Rescue will also accept donations and boops during the festival.
“We take every precaution when finding a home,” said GDR board member Patrick Williston. “We do home visits and meet every member of the family – it wouldn’t be safe to not do our due diligence.”
From Bohemian apartments to a fenced-in backyard, dogs over 100 pounds can potentially fit anywhere with the right lifestyle.
“One of the best re-homings we did was a massive, lazy, 190-pound dog in a townhome,” Williston said. “He’s doing great now, lost weight and goes on three walks a day.”
Running Into Our Hearts
In December of 2020, greyhound racing came to an end in Florida, but the long-legged creatures that fueled this controversial sport still need homes off the track.
“Even outside the racing industry, these dogs are well-balanced, gentle and good with people,” said Sharon Dippel, who runs GST’s Sun State Greyhound Adoptions.
GST will be at Get Rescued, dogs in tow, to represent the greyhound community and educate interested adopters.
“We never adopt on the spot,” Dippel said. “We need to determine that the home is a right fit, that the person is a right fit.”
For more visit sunstategreyhounds.org.
What About the Kitties?
While other pet rescues may have cats for adoption, Cat Haven is only cat-exclusive rescue organization at Get Rescued. Cat Haven is a Land O’ Lakes-based nonprofit dedicated to finding homes for abandoned felines. The all-volunteer organization rescues strays and finds them homes, while also helping control the feral cat population in Pasco and Hillsborough counties through their “trap, neuter, return” program.
More at fb.com/cathavenrescueinc.