MILTON — A Hope for Santa Rosa County is hoping to put a fresh spin on rescued animals with the inaugural event, A New Leash on Love.

"The whole point is to have a positive outlook on shelters and remind people to adopt, not shop," said Paige Cary, a volunteer with A Hope for Santa Rosa County.

Animal shelters — and Santa Rosa County is no exception — are often plagued with negative reputations. In June, the Santa Rosa County Animal Shelter reported an 80 percent euthanasia rate. The animal services director, Dale Hamilton said the high rate was largely a result of stray and feral cats that came to the shelter too sick to be cared for.

Shelter staff works to get the numbers down, but the best way to keep the rate low is to keep animals out of the shelter. And adopting a shelter cat or dog is a good prevention, Hamilton said.

"You should be able to find the animal you like at any of the shelters," Hamilton said. "Our staff works really hard and goes the extra mile to get animals ready for adoption."

At the New Leash on Love event, there will be plenty of adoptable pets from local rescues and the county shelter. There will also be dachshund races and a live demonstration from the Escambia Search and Rescue dogs. The event will end with a nighttime viewing of the 1992 movie "Beethoven" outside on the green. 

"We'll also have a red carpet for people to walk their rescues down the as we announce them," said Cary.

Local Boy and Girl Scout troops will be giving doggy baths. Cooling stations with little pools and misting stations will be set up to keep humans and pets comfortable — "We're trying to think of everything," Cary said.

Right now, A Hope is looking for vendors to join the fun. Food and craft vendors, as well as rescue groups can sign up by emailing All vendor fees are tax deductible.

"We want to encourage everyone to be there and highlight the rescues and shelters," she said. "We want more animals adopted."

A New Leash on Love will be from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Bagdad Mill Site Park. For more information, visit