Two different stories unfolded outside and inside the Maryland SPCA.
Outside, on the bucolic grounds above Falls Road in Hampden, adopted dogs made pawprint paintings and bobbed for hot dogs in a pool while their owners socialized at a Wine and Wag happy hour.
Inside, in the SPCA kennels, dogs and cats that were up for adoption huddled in their temporary homes, barking or mewing as potential owners passed by. Some were kittens and puppies. Others were older and there for reasons ranging from feline HIV and AIDS to untenable home lives with owners who were too old or busy to keep them.
"Take me, take me," translated SPCA director of development Sarah Walton as Bella, a 2-year-old German shepherd barked madly and jumped against the glass in her kennel.
The Wine and Wag was a way not only to promote the SPCA, but to get people inside as the nonprofit organization did its toughest job — finding homes for adoptable animals.
Patrick Horner, of Charles Village, said he wished he could adopt another animal, "but someone won't let me," he said, jerking a thump at his wife, Keri Kiewra. They adopted Herman, a now-4-year-old schnauzer mix, in 2011.
"One is enough," Kiewra said. Any more, she added, would be "too much to handle."
Dog days of summer
July and August are especially challenging for the SPCA, which has a $4 million budget from private donors, corporations and foundation grants and tries to find homes for 3,000 animals a year, in addition to performing 9,000 spays and neuters a year. Its biggest annual fundraiser is March for the Animals, which will celebrate its 20th year in 2015.
The organization also runs programs such as Dog Days Out — like a field trip for canines — and is currently renovating its 11-acre grounds off Interstate 83. It recently bought an X-ray machine and has three veterinarians on its 65-member staff.
"It's the dog days of summer," said spokeswoman Tina Regester. "Everyone wants a kitten. Everyone wants a puppy. But there are some larger dogs and cats that need homes too."
Tax attorney Elizabeth Drigodas, of Roland Park, president of the SPCA's board of directors, noted that the organization usually ends up with a lot of kittens as summer begins, because "kitten season" is typically in June.
"This year, kitten season is a little late," Drigodas said.
The SPCA is doing even more promotions than usual this summer, waiving its $100 adoption fees for older and larger animals.
"We can find more homes for pets by waiving the adoption fee," Regester said.