Doggie Play Day raises funds to aid wild tigers

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 | 4:46 p.m. CDT; updated 10:03 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 10, 2011
MU freshmen Nicole Twaddle, left, Angela Garcia, back, and Stephanie Gelhot play with dogs from Columbia Second Chance at the Doggie Play Day fundraiser. They heard about the event through Facebook and decided to come play with the dogs for a study break.

COLUMBIA — Fifteen minutes with man’s best friend could help save a life — the life of a wild tiger.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday students gathered at MU's Tiger Plaza to play with a furry friend of their choice in the second annual Doggie Play Day. The going price was $3 for 15 minutes. 

The event was hosted by Mizzou Tigers for Tigers, a student-led conservation program that works toward wild tiger conservation through donations and education.

“I don’t think people realize how few tigers are left in the wild and that there are ways they can help,” said Jennifer Smith, president of Mizzou Tigers for Tigers.

In addition to wild tigers, proceeds also went to Second Chance Animal Rescue, which provided the 18 adoptable dogs for people to play with.

"The dogs get a chance to get out and interact with people," Smith said. "The students also get a chance to relax between finals and enjoy the company of the dogs."

Valerie Chaffin, a volunteer at Second Chance, said the event is worthwhile because it shows the public that shelter dogs aren’t unhealthy, aggressive or mean.

“These are happy, healthy dogs who just need a home,” Chaffin said. 

When the event started, there were more people than dogs. But Chaffin said she didn’t think the dogs minded being fought over.

“These dogs are getting five hours of exercise and love,” she said. “They’re going to sleep good tonight.” 

Two sister pooches, Eliza and Harriet, Pekingese and Chihuahua mixes, were a big hit with attendees.

Freshman Sabrina Marshall sat in the grass with floppy-eared Harriet while sophomore Lauren Crist spent her 15 minutes with Eliza.

“I’ve gotten eight hours of sleep in the last two days for my finals today," Crist said. "So this is a great way for me to relax, even if it’s just for a little bit. I think $3 is completely worth it.”

Freshman Kaitlin Bereswill played with a black lab puppy named Bootsie.

“This is my half-way-through break I’m giving myself for my five finals,” Bereswill said. “It’s a major stress reliever."

Smith said 55 people participated in the event last year, which generated $200 in donations. This year’s totals jumped to 85 people with $280 in donations. 

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