By Gretchen Ammerman
For the TODAY
There are some things that bring more joy than anything money can buy, like walking down an Oregon beach with your dog, especially in the presence of other dogs and dog people. But this Saturday, Oct. 13, a group of dedicated volunteers is asking you to pony up to walk on the beach and contribute to a good cause.
The Beach Bark, founded by the late Kip Ward and his wife Katrica Hansen in 2010, is an organized dog walk on the beach in Lincoln City, with all proceeds going to fund medical care for North Lincoln County pets in need.
“When we see owners that are doing everything in their power to do right by their animal but are struggling financially for some reason, it’s wonderful having funds available to help them,” said Dr. Jennifer Malter of Oceanlake Veterinary Clinic. “You could be talking about something as simple as flea medicine, or as critical as rabies vaccinations.”
Walkers will set out at 10 am from the D River Wayside and head south roughly two miles to the Taft Turnaround at SW 51st Street. An aid station is available at the SW 33rd Street beach access in Nelscott, complete with water bowls and dog treats. A BBQ lunch for walkers will be held in Taft from 11 am to 1 pm, with hamburgers, cheeseburgers and veggie burgers. The meal as well as a T-shirt, which features a different design each year and has become a collectable item for some locals, is included in the $25 sign-up fee, which goes to the Beach Bark Fund.
“This fund is unique in that it is designed to specifically aid our local residents,” Malter said. “Kip and Kandy also wanted the vets to be able to decide how the monies are allocated, so we try to use them for the greatest good. The best example I can give is that we have people who agree that their pet needs to be spayed or neutered, but don’t have the means at the time. We can use the fund for that, which is a benefit to the whole community.”
And, Malter says, the community members who most directly benefit overwhelmingly pay the favor back when they are able.
“You don’t know how often I’ve had people who received help come in later and tell us that they want to contribute back,” she said. “I think that’s the spirit of Beach Bark and the ideals Kip and Kandy wanted to promote by creating this.”
Lincoln City is considered a dream destination for dogs, with dog-friendly hotels and miles of beaches. The town also has residents who will rescue and spay or neuter feral cats at personal expense, and some who might put their pets’ health above their own.
“We live in a community of retired citizens, often they will pay for their dogs medicine before they will buy any for themselves,” said Karen Richards, past Beach Bark volunteer. “Kip always said, ‘We can’t take care of all of them, but at least we’re making a dent.’”
Kip, according to Richards, considered the Beach Bark Fund to be a way to level the playing field for area pets.
“Socialized medicine for pets, he used that phrase all the time,” Richards said. “This is medicine paid by the people for the animals, to put all the animals on equal standing regardless of the financial situation of their owners, who they didn’t choose.”
Participants can pick up their shirt at the D River between 9 and 10 am.
Anyone is free to join the walk without paying the $25, but they will not receive a T-shirt or lunch.
Extra meals can be purchased for $5, with additional donations welcomed. There will also be raffle tickets for various prizes at the barbecue.
“The Beach Bark has benefited tons of animals over the years,” Malter said “But it’s not about one animal, it’s about the whole community. I think everybody benefits when our animals are well cared for.”
To participate in the Beach Bark, pre-order a shirt via the Facebook Page, www.facebook.com/thebeachbark or go directly to the online order form, at https://bit.ly/BeachBark. Pre-ordering is recommended.