A Carthage High School senior is bringing back an event she helped plan when she was in elementary school.

Olivia Pierce and a few other members of the Carthage High School student council are putting on a second edition of Mutt-Minster, a show for dogs that are not purebred, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 8, in Carthage Central Park.

But this time, the event is more than a dog show, and Pierce will receive some school credit for the effort.

“It’s a super-event, (which) is what we’re calling it,” Pierce said. “My student council teacher, Kelsey Stenger, is having us do ‘passion projects’ for student council. I haven’t had the time in previous years to do Mutt-Minster. I’ve had dance and all the other extracurricular activities I’ve been in, but now that I’ve had class time to work on it, it’s really easy to put it all back together. and I have adults help, and the help of like four other students to get it all back together. It’s a lot easier that it was with that kind of help.”

Pierce said the dog show is now part of a larger event, which will include a pet adoptions and a pet food drive for the Carthage Humane Society.

“I’m working with a lot of kids from student council as a passion project. We’re doing it together,” Pierce said. “We’re doing an adoption fair, and we’re also doing a supply drive. In the past, I’ve done the whole $10 donation as an entry fee to the dog show to raise money but this time that’s an option or you can bring an item from the Humane Society’s supply list to enter.”

First Mutt-Minster

In 2013, when she was 8 years old, Pierce and her family organized the first Mutt-Minster Dog Show in Carthage’s Central Park and raised money for the Carthage Humane Society.

The history of Olivia Pierce and Mutt-Minster is summarized on the event’s Facebook page.

“In 2012, Olivia Pierce, then just 8, was watching the Westminster Dog Show with her grandmother, Piper Anderson-Pierce, and her two dogs, Scout and Princeton,” the post said. “As they were waiting to see which dog won, Olivia said, ‘One day Scout is going to be Best in Show.’ That is when her grandmother had to deliver the sad news that Westminster was a show for only pure breeds and since both of their dogs were rescues they would not be allowed to even enter the show.

“This distressed Olivia, so she asked her Grandmother if they could start their own dog show that every dog could enter no matter what their pedigree was or was not. Piper went right to work and put together a wonderful dog show that they named Mutt-Minster. It was held in Central Park in Carthage and they set a goal for that first year of $300. When the totals were counted they were amazed that they had raised over $1,200. They decided to give the money to the local Humane Society and to make it an annual event.”

In three years, Pierce said, the shows raised $8,100 for the Carthage Humane Society.

Pierce said in the years since, she and her family talked about bringing Mutt-Minster back, but life got in the way.

“My mom was so happy” for a redo of the event, Pierce said. “She’s been wanting us to do it again. She’s mentioned it every year, and it just hasn’t worked out. We’ve started working on it, and it just falls through because we don’t have time, either of us. I really think it’s going to be a good thing this year.”

Class project

Carthage High School student council adviser Kelsey Stenger said “passion projects” is her name for community service projects performed by student council members.

Stenger said she had to discontinue the projects when COVID-19 hit in 2020, and that this was the first year she felt comfortable bringing them back.

When Pierce came to her and talked about Mutt-Minster, Stenger, who has to review all the projects proposed by the students, endorsed it immediately.

Stenger said a number of other student council members had talked about doing something for the Humane Society, so she asked Olivia if she’d be willing to combine forces with those other students and create an even bigger event.

“We’re going to have several kids working on this, and they’re going to have different elements of the project itself, which I think is really cool just to make it more than a dog show,” Stenger said. “It’s always a lot of fun to see what kids come up with. I’ve got kids who are making baskets for homeless people. They’ve contacted Watered Gardens or the Crisis Center to find out what items a lot of homeless people need. That’s one thing they have to do — they have to call and research and talk to people. So they made homeless baskets with things homeless people need the most. I’ve got a group that is making fleece tie blankets to deliver to kids in the children’s hospitals.”

Vital support

Renay Minshew, director of the Carthage Humane Society, said the organization relies in large part on help from the public just to keep the doors open.

“That’s where the majority of our funding comes from, is the public,” Minshew said. “We only get $3,000 a month from the city, and our expenses are $30,000 a month, so if it were not for people like Olivia who do fundraisers for us or do a food drive or bring us their old towels and blankets or memorials where people say instead of buying flowers, give to the Humane Society, all those things are what keeps our doors open. If it were not for the Olivias and the people like her, there would be no Carthage Humane Society.”

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