Olympics for the Dogs

Fundraiser a feat of four- and two-legged skill


The gala is canceled, but the Bar Olympics are on. This weekend’s fundraiser for the Florida Keys SPCA is wildly different than last year’s. In place of a fancy party, the Marathon animal shelter has invited teams from local bars to participate in the “Bar Olympics.” It’s set for Saturday, Jan. 13 at Faro Blanco’s Lighthouse Grill.

But first, tests of skill and courage for dogs and owners. Beginning at 10 a.m., there will be a “tennis ball lottery” — where animals fetch numbered tennis balls for prizes. Then, the “temptation plate” challenge, with the top prize going to the canine who can resist the longest before devouring successive delicacies piled on the plate before them. And, of course, the “kiss off” — a test designed to gauge a pup’s affection for his or her human.

“We just couldn’t wrap our heads around the idea of having a fancy gala this year. The community is already hurting,” said shelter director Tara Vickrey. “We decided to break up our fundraising efforts into smaller, more frequent events.”

At noon, the challenge for local service industry employees begins. Who can tap a keg the fastest? Run the fastest holding a loaded tray? Local restaurants and bars are encouraged to sign up a team of employees for the competition modeled after the wildly popular Battle of the Bars annual event in Key West.

Fundraising events like these are our primary resources to raise money for the daily needs of the shelter animals and any medical or special needs that arise,” said Florida Keys SPCA Board Member Julie Botteri. “I think the best turnout would be if we had a variety of restaurants participate, especially in these times post Irma. This is a great way for them to re-introduce themselves to the community in a fun, competitive way.”

The event is a fundraiser for the Marathon campus of the FKSPCA. As a contractual service provider for Monroe County, the group must also raise funds on the side to maintain the same level of care — about an additional $100,000 every year. In addition, this year Vickrey wants to raise more money to start a spay and neuter clinic, possibly a mobile operation.

Karen Thurman, Faro Blanco’s GM said, “We do a lot of things throughout the year with FKSPCA, like the monthly paint parties and our property is pet friendly, so this is a natural fit.”

And, yes, Lighthouse Grill will DEFINITELY have a team competing.

Also, mark your calendar for the upcoming “Paws in the Park” dog walk on Key Colony Beach set for Feb. 24, and the third annual miniature golf tournament at Boondocks on April 7.

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