By Ryan Richardson
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
Olivia Pierce never thought the mutt-friendly dog show she helped organize over the weekend at Carthage’s Central Park would bring so many dog enthusiasts together, but the 8-year-old quickly found herself surrounded by mutts of all shapes and sizes.
More importantly, she found people who care about dogs the same way that she does.
Olivia originally was inspired by the Westminster Dog Show in New York. After asking her mother, Keegan Pierce, to enter her dog, Princeton, in the show, she found out that only purebred dogs need apply. Olivia thought that all dogs deserved the same chance to be seen, regardless of breed. Out of her inspiration, the Mutt-minster Dog Show came to fruition.
As Mutt-minster Dog Show founder, Olivia set a modest fundraising goal of $300 for the Carthage Humane Society. Before the best-in-show winner was named Saturday, Olivia’s mother announced that $1,210 had been raised. A shocked Olivia accepted the donation bucket for the Humane Society.
“I never thought we would get this many people here,” she said. “I just wanted to have other people see dogs the same way that I do, to know that they are all special in some way.”
According to Keegan Pierce, donations came from a mix of corporate sponsors and competition entries.
“Olivia never said stop even after finding out that she was over the goal,” her mother said. “Part of her drive was to see other dogs, but she really wanted to give as much as possible to the Humane Society.”
Each of the dogs in Saturday’s show was categorized based on size and trotted around the center of the park for the judges to inspect, with Joplin resident Lauren Weiss and her boxer-schnauzer mix, Callie, taking the title. This was Weiss’ first dog show.
“The great thing about today was that so many dogs that either came off of the street or out of a shelter were being celebrated,” Weiss said. “We were cheering on each other, and we wanted the dogs to be the star of today.”
Carthage Humane Society Director Glenda Erwin said that this was the biggest donation that she had received from a fundraiser someone else organized.
“This was the first time someone wanted to just do a benefit on their own for us,” Erwin said. “This was all Olivia’s idea. She ran with it, and we are grateful that she did. It is an amazing outpouring of community support that we saw today.”
Olivia plans on turning the Mutt-minster Dog Show into an annual event.
“I absolutely will do this again,” Olivia’s mother said.
Best of show
Saturday’s show featured nearly 30 dogs and their owners competing for the best-in-show title.