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Whole lotta woofin'

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Charmed by Morgan and Tebow at Bark-N-Purr

By Jenna McKenna

For one night, anyway, country fans at the Second Annual Bark-N-Purr charity concert reclaimed Florida roads as Nashville artist Craig Morgan wailed “International Harvester,” his hymn celebrating hardworking, road-hogging farm combine drivers. The theme of a triumphant return to working class family values was upheld by Morgan’s other Top 10 country hits, including “Redneck Yacht Club” and “That’s What I Love About Sunday.” Morgan was the headliner of a boisterous night of country and country rock, starting with Bryce Carlisle and followed by the Tom Jackson band. At the peak of the show, Morgan called to the stage a friend of his, University of Florida quarterback and 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.

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It was all for the animals. Morgan’s performance and Tebow’s appearance capped a daylong festival of food and fun, organized for the benefit of the building fund of the Humane Society of Levy County (HSLC). Levy County Sheriff’s Office teamed up with Chiefland Police to put on an amazing demonstration of police dog control and coordination, and Disc-Connected K9’s showed off the Frisbee-catching skills of their rotating crew of rescue dogs. Rescued animals from Levy County visited the festival in the exposition tent near the entrance, and kept watch over tables for other working compassion groups such as the American Cancer Society, Haven Hospice, AMVETS and Rolling Thunder.

HSLC education director Michelle Hagan said the group is ultimately working toward building a full-service spay, neuter and adoption facility in or near Bronson, in addition to supporting its other ongoing programs.

Since 2005, HSLC has saved more than 5,000 adoptable animals in Levy County from being euthanized. In the last six months, the Levy County Animal Shelter has not had to euthanize any adoptable dogs; adoptable cats and kittens have been spared for the last two months. The HSLC has been instrumental in identifying, transporting, fostering, neutering and finding homes for these animals.

HSLC also partners with the Humane Society of Inverness and other local groups for Trap-Neuter-Return projects to stabilize feral cat colonies, and for low-cost spaying and neutering of owned animals in Levy County.

“After the pilot project we did with the funds from the Animal Friends grant, we wanted to continue doing the low cost spaying and neutering for people here in the county,” Hagan said.

Hagan credited the group’s ongoing ability to provide services, as well as the success of the Bark-N-Purr event, to the support of businesses and individuals in the area.

“I just want to thank everybody for supporting us and participating,” she said.

“We would never have the success we have if not for our sponsors and the people of the community.”

Sponsorship for the event was somewhat down this year, as was attendance, due to the shaky economy. HSLC won’t know the amount of funds raised from the concert for several days at least, but Hagan said based on the appearance of crowds and the obvious enjoyment of attendees, the group hopes to continue the tradition next year.

“So many people told us how much they enjoyed it,” she said.

“We’ll have to sit down and look at all the numbers, but, yes, we’d love to do it again.”