Dogs of all shapes and sizes will be doggy paddling for charity at the Athens City Pool right before the pool closes for the winter.
The Athens Community Center and Friendly Paws Pet Supplies and Grooming will be hosting a dog swim at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Admission is $5 per dog but larger donations are encouraged.
The proceeds will benefit a new pet care program at Integrated Services for Behavioral Health, an organization that guides residents of Southeastern and Central Ohio toward physical health and mental wellbeing using personalized services for each individual. The mission of the new program is to help the pets of people in need with services such as spaying, neutering, flea treatment, emergency food and more.
Dogs must show proof of up-to-date vaccinations before entering the pool to preserve the health and safety of all animals and people present. Dogs must also be brushed before swimming to avoid excess fur in the pool’s filtration system. Brushing stations will be available but dog-owners are encouraged to brush their pets at home so they can get straight to the fun.
Tennis balls will be provided for dogs while the Burrito Buggy will be there for the owners. Proceeds from the Burrito Buggy will also be going toward the program for pets at Integrated Services.
There will be a section reserved for smaller dogs to play with one another as well as a splash pad for all dogs to take advantage of. Owners are encouraged to bring cameras to document all the fun.
Shelley Liberman, the owner of Friendly Paws Pet Supplies, said the pool usually sees about 100 dogs at the swim. She fears that the swim will be less popular this year since it’s taking place on a weekday but she is hopeful for a turnout comparable to past years. Liberman said she could not choose what she's most excited about; she is passionate about the cause the swim supports as well as about letting the dogs have a good time in the water. She said it is not uncommon to see dogs jump into the pool over and over again until they wear themselves out as well as enjoy themselves on the pool deck, making other furry friends.
"It's just always a lot of fun," Liberman said. “Even dogs who don’t like the water always have a great time.”
Kalynn Seymour, a senior studying community and public health, said her dog Maverick will definitely be attending the swim.
“Maverick loves the water,” Seymour said. “We took him on vacation this summer to a dog beach. There were no leashes, just dogs running around and having fun. It was the closest thing to heaven for him.”
She is a big fan of everything Athens does for dogs and animals in general.
“I think all the stuff the community does for animals is awesome,” Seymour said. “The dog parks are always top-notch and so safe for the dogs.”