Chelsea Taylor shows her lab Luna during the 2018 Southside Virginia Doggie Fashion Show and Luncheon at the Golden Leaf Commons. This year’s show is Saturday, May 18. for tickets call (434) 634-3296 or (804) 731-8987.

It started as a dream for Emporia-Greensville Humane Society President Peggy Malone, but through persistent effort and refusal to throw in the towel the EGHS has thrived and become a mainstay in the community.

In May of 2004 Malone and a handful of volunteers fulfilled the dream of bringing the Humane Society to Emporia and within three months the 503C non-profit papers were filed and the EGHS was officially recognized. The work was far from complete.

The EGHS did not have its own building and was running a cattery in back spaces of Malone’s 113 Baker St. State Farm Insurance Office and dogs were boarded at homes of citizens seeking to help the struggling new organization until a permanent housing site for the animals could be built.

At the time the animal shelter operated a gas chamber to euthanize unadopted dogs. Malone urged city and county officials do away with the practice and was successful in her efforts. The next big break came from Parker Oil, which donated a three-acre lot in the Emporia Industrial Park for the EGHS to construct its facility. It took nearly five years from the birth of the EGHS to have its nearly $500,000, 4,000 square-feet facility built for $175,000 through donations. The five-year process preceding the building of the building took a determined group of volunteers and community help to make it happen.

“With a lot of help from the good Lord, it came to be,” Malone said. “We accomplished this in five years. It’s quite a feat. There are a lot of people out there that wanted to help animals. The community really stepped up to the plate. We were overwhelmed by the generosity and compassion from individuals and businesses.”

The dedication of the original volunteers continues to day. Malone, Tara Malone-Menendez. Patricia Stainback and Wendy Wright were instrumental when the EGHS got off the ground in 2004. They are still operating the EGHS today.

Though the biggest obstacles are now in the rear view mirror, the battle is never completely won. It takes money to operate the facility, which houses as many as 25 dogs and 50 cats. Malone-Menendez said it costs approximately $50,000 a year to operate the facility. and the work is all volunteer. The majority of the revenue now comes from three annual major fundraising events. Two Boston Butt sales and the Southside Virginia Doggie Fashion Show and Luncheon.

The Southside Virginia Doggie Fashion Show and Luncheon is just around the corner. This year’s event is from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 18 at the Golden Leaf Commons. The doors open at 11:30 a.m.

The categories are Toy Breed, Medium Breed and Large Breed. There are still slots available to enter your dog in the family fun event. Only 10 dogs will be registered in each category. For registration form information, call (434) 634-3296. The registration fee is $15.

A $150 cash prize, free dog food from Science Diet and other prizes will go to the winners of the three categories, as well as a $100 cash prize and $75 gift basket for Best in Personality, Best in Costume and Most Like Owner. This year’s overall Best in Show winner will be awarded a $500 cash prize, free dog food from Science Diet, a free one-year subscription to Dog Fancy Magazine, a $100 goody basket, an 8x10 photograph from Clements Mayes Photography and a Petsense doggie goody basket.

Malone-Menendez said that the generosity of businesses and individuals have not only been critical keeping the EGHS doors open, but businesses in Emporia-Greensville, Lawrenceville and Roanoke Rapids have been vital to the annual success of the Southside Virginia Doggie Fashion Show and Luncheon.

After every show Malone thanks everyone involved and says all the dogs are winners. It can also be said the real winners are the cats and dogs housed at the EGHS.