Gone to the dogs: Group partners with OCHS to find homes for pooches

 Aurora greets those coming to the Southern Dog Cafe trailer (Photo by Ryan Phillips, SDN)

Fire Station Park was alive with the sounds of barking dogs, laughing children and music on Saturday for the Starkville Community Market, which featured an unorthodox vender.

Working out of a modified pull-behind trailer, Jacksonville, Florida-based Southern Dog Cafe set up shop at the Starkville Community Market on Saturday in tandem with the Oktibbeha County Humane Society.

The 501(c)(3) organization travels around partnering with humane societies to offer free coffee and provide a fun space for dogs to be shown off to potential adopters.

Owner and founder Carolyn Snowden handed out coffee to those walking up, as she stood on the back of the trailer. Behind a gate were several puppies in need of homes.

“This is definitely one of our best events as far as the market goes,” Snowden said as she helped a woman up into the trailer to play with the puppies. “I’ve poured more coffee than normal, I’ve seen more potential adopters than normal and the weather cooperated, so I think it’s the perfect storm for a great event.”

Next Thursday, the Southern Dog Cafe will set up shop at DT Grinders in Meridian, where the organization is based this summer. They will then head back to Jacksonville in time for the school season.

“We are trying to grow our operation so we can be in multiple locations at the same time,” Snowden said. “Right now, I run the whole thing by myself and it’s been great, but I’m ready to take it to the next level so anyone that’s interested in joining in can contact me through the website and I can hook them up.”

OCHS Director of Development and Community Relations Martha Thomas said turnout for the event was “fantastic,” with a wide-range of people showing interest in the concept.

“It was a beautiful day at the market we had a lot of foot traffic, with the people coming to the market to see the dogs and the people coming to buy the beautiful fruits and veggies being sold,” she said. “Everyone has enjoyed petting puppies.”

OCHS General Manager Christy Wells said several people inquired about adopting some of the dogs and said they would likely stop be the shelter in the afternoon for more one-on-one time.

The two also encouraged locals to attend the shelter’s Celebrity Wait Night on July 10 at Harveys, which will raise money for the shelter.

“(The Southern Dog Cafe) definitely does help them because some of these people may not necessarily be coming by the shelter so it makes them more convenient,” Wells said.