November 4, 2021
(TAMPA, Fla.) — Halloween is a time of year filled with costumes, pumpkins, and, of course, candy. But at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, they add a little extra fun to their celebration: animals in costume.
HOWL-o-ween has become an annual celebration complete with games, kids and dogs in costumes, a grill-out, and pumpkins for sale, with all proceeds benefitting the Humane Society.
“We’ve actually have done this for a few years now,” said Liz McCoy, HSTB’s Event Manager. “We used to do this just for doggies, but it has evolved over the years to include kids as well. And it has been just a way for families to come out with either their two- or four-legged family members.”
McCoy says there are many repeat celebrants, especially in the dog costume contest. This year, Daisy and her owner Maddie dressed up as “Star-Barks,” a twist on Starbucks, Maddie’s workplace. Maddie said it was easy for her to decide what to wear after recently being hired and wearing that green apron every day. Daisy the chihuahua sat patiently in the “to-go box” as other guests took their pictures. Maddie and Daisy took second place in the dog costume contest.
Other great canine costumes included a full family of kids and dogs decked out in Tampa Bay Lightning gear, a hot dog, a warden and two convicts, and a pair of corpse brides. Some pet parents got in on the spirit, while others were content to let their pet friends shine.
With donations from local businesses and community members, this location just moved to its current facility last year with more room for dogs, cats, and rabbits. Plus, there are new spaces for potential pet parents to get to know their forever friends.
Jennifer Scott has been volunteering since April. A lifelong animal lover and history teacher at a local middle school during the week, she spends her weekends helping the Humane Society. On Halloween eve, she manned the front door, greeting families and pets as they entered and giving tours of the facility.
Her favorite part of the job is seeing pets find homes, “especially when there’s kids or maybe somebody who’s older who’s lost an animal.” There was an older gentleman that day who came in hoping to find a new dog after his previous animal died a few months prior.
“I’m hoping that he, before I leave today, comes out with a new pet,” she said.
Volunteers like Scott help keep organizations like the Humane Society running year-round. As a teacher, Scott is also heavily involved in their PAWS for Literacy, a program where elementary students come in to practice their reading skills by reading to the animals.
But it’s community events like HOWL-o-ween that help connect animals with their forever humans. In fact, while The Click was there, we counted about a dozen proud new pet parents taking their cats and dogs to their new homes.