TERRE HAUTE —
Building stronger relationships between the community and local agencies is not the only goal of the 2013 National Night Out on Tuesday at Fairbanks Park in Terre Haute.
The Code Enforcement Office at the Terre Haute Police Department has put together goodie bags for dogs and cats to help pet owners care for their animals.
“We want people to know that animal control is here for them, and we want to help their animals,” said code enforcement officer Laurie Tharp recently, standing next to a stack of pet toys, collars and leashes. “Too often, people see us as just the dog catchers. We don’t want to take animals away from people. We want people to take better care of their animals.”
From 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the city’s riverside park, emergency and public service agencies who help residents in the Wabash Valley will have booths, displays and activities, along with free food and giveaway items.
Event organizer Jason Brentlinger, a lieutenant with the Terre Haute Police Department, said that once again this year, vendors have been asked to pass out school supplies to the children and families who visit the event.
“We’re focusing again on school supplies,” he said, “because that is a great service to the public. We also have 500 bags of school supplies to give away.”
The extra attention given by the Code Enforcement Office is the result of three grants received, as well as the generous donations from area businesses.
About 400 bags of dog food and cat food will be given away during the four-hour event on a first-come, first-served basis. Tharp said her office also has T-shirts and hats to give away, in addition to books on animal care for children.
“If we teach them at a young age to care for animals, they will likely turn out to be good pet owners,” Tharp said.
Code Enforcement receives an average of 50 calls per week about problem dogs and cats, or neglected animals.
Among the giveaways are certificates for low cost rabies shots from a local veterinarian. Code Enforcement is also promoting that during the month of August, the Spay and Neuter League is offering a $20 spay or neuter for cats older than eight weeks. Sign-up for that program is at the 14th and Chestnut Community Center.
The THPD-organized event was ranked No. 1 in the nation for its National Night Out 2012 effort, winning a trophy as the best program among 39 similar-sized cities. The local event has consistently been ranked among the Top 10 NNO events in the nation for communities with populations from 50,000 to 100,000. About 100 sponsors donated their time, supplies and cash to the annual event each year.
“The agencies that come to National Night Out are community-impacting agencies,” Brentlinger said. “They are always monitoring how they impact people by handing out surveys and giving information about their agencies that can help people.”
In addition, all of the freebies — free hotdogs, popcorn and soft drinks will be provided by Pepsi — the public can enjoy musical entertainment local favorite The Mack Daddys, which will be performing live at the amphitheater. Area radio stations will broadcast and provide music.
Several demonstrations will be conducted by law enforcement and other public service agencies, as well. A returning favorite is the rock climbing walls set up by the Army National Guard.
National Night Out is a project of the National Association of Town Watch, an organization dedicated to the development and promotion of organized law enforcement-affiliated crime and drug prevention programs. The nationwide event is usually scheduled for the first Tuesday in August.
Among the other free activities are airboat rides on the Wabash River, several giveaways, and children’s events.
Also, anyone who has concerns about incidents in their neighborhoods or trends they are seeing in the community is invited to share those issues with the many agencies who will be represented at the event.
Another part of the event, but off-site, will be the collection of canned goods at the Terre Haute Food Bank and at Catholic Charities.
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.