It takes exactly three hours to drive from the center of Mentor to WAG! Fest, almost a straight shot south on 271.
Is this your next pilgrimage? It depends. How much do you love dogs and is Saturday, Aug. 27, free on your calendar?
The reason I raise WAG! isn't merely for the potential benefits to you and your dog, though they could be kind of monumental.
The festival's whole point is to put you nose-to-nose with people who actively sniff out the best toys, food, grooming, health care and activities to keep Fido strong, healthy and happy — well, that's the company line.
This year they expect it to draw more than 2,500 canine guests and 10,000 of their humans. Scheduled activities between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. include splashy games, contests, information, exhibits and free product samples, as well as live entertainment and training tips on the Bow-Wow Stage.
Another perk: WAG! is held at Prairie Oaks Metro Parks in Franklin County, specifically the lush Darby Bend Lakes area, where pets are allowed on the 1.4-mile stretch of trail east of the creek and where dogs can take a dip at the Water Bark Beach any time.
No, alas, my reason to raise WAG! is again to encourage you sign in support for the Ohio Dog Auctions Act.
(Of course you could just sign the petition at the front desk of Lake Humane Society at 7564 Tyler Blvd., Bldg. E — but where's the adventure in that?)
As I've told you before, dog auctions are at the heart of the puppy mills we all despise: small cages, excessive breeding, all kinds of diseases and, worst of all, no substantive human contact.
Unwanted dogs cost us in shelter, pound and rescue center costs. And without laws to prevent this behavior, Ohio is among the most overpopulated dog states in the country.
The Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions intends to collect the signatures of 120,700 registered voters to urge legislators to make it "unlawful for any person to auction or raffle a dog within Ohio for any purpose" and keep dogs intended for these purposes out of the state.
“We currently stand just over 97,000 signatures (that count includes 10 percent of the signatures collected from the Ohio State Fair; our goal is to finish entering those signatures into our database by Aug. 27),” coalition leader Mary Shaver told me this past weekend. “Our campaign continues to build momentum across Ohio with each passing day.”
If 120,700 signatures are collected and legislators act on the proposed law in 2012, a first offense would be a minor misdemeanor, carrying a fine up to $150. Subsequent offenses would be fourth-degree misdemeanors carrying a $250 fine and up to 30 days in jail. And if legislators decline, the Coalition petitions for a ballot issue.
At WAG!, hard-working coalition volunteers will make it easier for animal lovers like yourself to add their John Hancocks.
Sign in Mentor. Sign at WAG! But just sign. Again, it's very important.
To download a kit with a dog auction Q&A, strategies to raise awareness and gather signatures in support of the Ohio Dog Auctions Ban, and the petition itself, visit http://www.banohiodogauctions.com/Campaigns.html.