Although gentle in nature, loving and free-spirited, beagles are not known for their obedience.
Instead, these hound dogs are a breed unto themselves — marching to their own drum, so to speak, by following their noses.
Beagles, which often have a trademark smattering of black, brown and white coats, are also known to be a bit unreliable when they are off their leashes; that’s just a small part of the reason why the Arizona Beagle Rescue group has followed its heart the last 10 years by finding homes for about 1,200 of them that have been lost or abandoned during the last decade.
From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 1 — and this is no April Fool’s Day joke — the East Valley-based Arizona Beagle Rescue Group, will host its Annual Beaglefest at the Ruben Romero picnic area (south of the lake) at Tempe Kiwanis Park, 6111 S. All-America Way.
About 50 beagles will be present for adoption during the nonprofit organization’s large fundraising event — and a class of former foster beagles who now have happy homes will be present with their families for an alumni parade as the DJ plays “We are the Champions.”
And that’s not all: Approved adopters will get to participate in a “Speed Dating” event with the prospective adoptee, spending five minutes each with a dog before moving on to the next one and ultimately picking one out to provide it a new home.
Cheryl Becker of Mesa, treasurer and intake, foster and medical care coordinator for the Arizona Beagle Rescue, owns three beagles herself — Benny, Patch and Luca. She said the event is like the dogs themselves — original.
“It’s a celebration of beagles,” said the Dobson Ranch neighborhood resident. “It’s a day to honor and celebrate them. We try to be original and have fun with this event. Beagle people are a breed unto themselves, and they love their beagles. To see them get together in one place with their dogs is neat. Sometimes I think it rains beagles.
“When you see all the beagles in the parade, it just gives you goose bumps,” Becker added. “They’re just so darn cute. They’re loving dogs and like to cuddle.”
Attendees are asked to bring a new or gently used collar or leash to help the dogs begin their new life, since most of them are found untethered and unclaimed, Becker said.
Arizona Beagle Rescue closely works with the Maricopa County Animal Shelter and the Arizona Humane Society to rescue dogs from daily euthanasia lists, as well as take dogs from the shelter’s New Hope program that allows volunteers of the group to foster them and find homes.
Through the years, the dogs have come from unusual places — in many cases, downright scary circumstances.
One beagle was found chained up in the desert; another one abandoned in the lobby of a post office (He was named Zip Code). Another was found near the Palo Verde Nuclear Plant (He was named Nuke) and another locked inside a plastic kennel inside an abandoned home. In 2008, Arizona Beagle Rescue acquired 28 dogs from a puppy mill in Missouri that was court-ordered to give up 100 of its dogs.
“It’s hard to believe what some people will do by abandoning these dogs or leaving them behind,” Becker said. “By law, when people find an abandoned animal, they are supposed to turn them in to the county animal shelter. The housing crisis has really hit the pet rescue groups hard as people sometimes leave their pets behind in foreclosed homes.”
The group has adopted out about 50 beagles each of the last few years to people who complete the application process, Becker said.
It costs $250 to adopt a dog up to a year old and the price goes down depending on its age. During April, Arizona Beagle Rescue is providing a $50 special for beagles 9 years old or older. The costs cover spaying or neutering and vaccinations, among other necessities and perks. The group is funded on donations and has about 100 volunteers and more than 1,000 friends on its Facebook page (www.evtnow.com/beaglerescue).
It costs Arizona Beagle Rescue about $90,000 a year to cover the medical care for the dogs in foster care, Becker said.
“Our group does some really amazing things,” Becker said.
But on Sunday, it will be all about the dogs, a celebration of beagles following their noses.
“Every beagle should be living the life they deserve on somebody’s couch,” Becker said.