Halloween came early for dozens of costumed dog-lovers who paraded the streets of downtown Baton Rouge on Sunday morning with their costumed dogs in tow.
Victoria Davenport dressed as Willie Wonka complete with a glittering purple hat, while her dogs Gus and Winston were dressed as Oompa Loompas. Her boyfriend, Matt Banta, was dressed as Batman while his dog, Duke, was dressed as Robin.
“Batman and Robin seemed like the easy choice, the right thing to do,” Banta said.
“Anything I can do to help support them and raise money,” Davenport said of why she participated in the parade.
The fifth annual Yappy Halloween Run Sunday morning held at the North Boulevard Town Square raised money for the nonprofit animal shelter Yelp!BR, which unites dogs and puppies with new families and homes. Since its founding in 2009, the shelter estimates it’s rescued more than 1,800 dogs, many of those from “kill shelters.”
Debbie Davenport, a Yelp!BR volunteer and Victoria Davenport’s mother, said her family has taken in a total of six dogs from Yelp!BR, and four of those were wandering Baton Rouge on a leash Sunday. Roux and Armaduke were dressed in linebacker jerseys while Louise and Georgina were dressed as cheerleaders.
“They have a lot of beautiful dogs that need homes,” Debbie Davenport said of Yelp!BR. “And they have so much love to give.”
The event also served as a reunion of sorts for about 20 Yelp!BR dogs that had been adopted, because many of the owners brought their dogs back for the parade Sunday, said Jessica Card, director of Yelp!BR.
There also were about 40 more dogs from various shelters that still need a home.
“We love seeing our alumni. We know that they’re being taken care of,” Card said.
One of those alums, Willie, was dressed up as a goat and led by Mandeville veterinarian Becky Bohm and her 13-year-old daughter, Hillary. Bohm said she brought Willie home in March and that he has been a welcome addition to their family. While Willie was a goat, complete with goat horns and a clanging bell, Hillary was dressed as a goat farmer complete with a beard and red mountain man’s hat.
Dog owners were quick to describe the advantages and satisfaction of adopting a dog. For Katherine Stewart and her boyfriend, Elliot Rish, who have both worked at veterinary clinics, “adopting” their dog was a challenge. The couple said they spent two weeks gradually coaxing one terrified dog, a Labrador mix named Anna, out of a fenced-in portion of the Cortana Mall parking lot where she had apparently been living on the mall’s trash.
Now Anna is the best-behaved of their four dogs.
“It’s just a really good feeling to know that she’s not still there,” Rish said.
Owner Kristin McKinley said adopting a dog can forge a special connection.
“It’s something about the rescue, when they just know you rescued them. They’re more laid-back, more social,” she said of her dog, Beatrix Kiddo. “There’s not a lot that upsets her.”