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‘La Jolla Mutt Strut’: Inaugural walk and pet party for La Jolla High School seeks four-legged fundraisers

The inaugural "La Jolla Mutt Strut" plans to unleash furry friends on The Village on Saturday, May 7.
(Courtesy of Olga Wharton)

The Foundation of La Jolla High School is hoping community members won’t sit and stay (at home) when the organization unleashes its inaugural “La Jolla Mutt Strut” on Saturday, May 7, in The Village.

The Mutt Strut, a fundraiser for La Jolla High, will begin at 9 a.m. at the school, 750 Nautilus St., and include a 1-mile walk to the La Jolla Recreation Center at 615 Prospect St.

A pet party at the Rec Center will feature local businesses presenting a variety of activities, such as a pet trick class, contests, dog yoga, pet “paw-dicures” and a pet psychic, said Olga Wharton, Mutt Strut’s chairwoman.

There also will be dogs available for adoption from a local rescue agency, along with a station to make bandanas and toys for homeless dogs, Wharton said.

Walkers and their pets will be staggered in groups to alleviate crowds on the sidewalks as the Mutt Strut progresses down Draper Avenue. “This is going to be very well-organized,” Wharton said.

The "La Jolla Mutt Strut" will include dogs available for adoption from a local rescue agency.
The “La Jolla Mutt Strut” will include dogs available for adoption from a local rescue agency.
(Courtesy of Olga Wharton)

La Jolla High cheerleaders and Associated Student Body members will help set up and run the event, and woodshop students are building a podium, she said. “Everyone is contributing.”

Wharton said registration is limited to 100 dogs. Fees are $20 for one person or $40 for a family of four, plus $10 per dog (up to two dogs per family). To register, visit ljmuttstrut.com.

Wharton said all money raised will go to the Foundation of La Jolla High School to help support the students there.

Kirsten Zuckerman, fundraising chairwoman for the foundation, said LJHS “is one of only a handful of schools in all of San Diego Unified that doesn’t qualify for any Title I federal funding,” which is based on students’ family income.

She said the foundation tries to “raise money to make up that difference. … And that’s why an event like this is just so important.”

The Mutt Strut is open to anyone — even those without pets or with pets other than dogs. “We’re hoping the more we can get the community involved, the more they’ll feel invested in the school itself,” Zuckerman said.

She added that community outreach is important in affluent areas, as many families send their children to private high schools, which dwindles public school enrollment and leads to less funding. Other students are bused in from lower-income areas and their families are unable to contribute.

“Anything we can do to get more money to our school is huge,” Zuckerman said.

Wharton said event organizers are still looking for sponsors, prize donations, silent auction items and other contributions.

“You contribute to the community, you contribute to your local school and you also help pets. … It’s a really great cause,” she said.

Wharton said her team is looking for a “top dog” sponsor to make a $10,000 donation, which would earn the sponsor’s pet the title of Mutt Strut mascot.

“If someone wants to make their cat the top dog,” it would be welcomed, Zuckerman said.

Wharton, a pet owner herself, said the idea for the Mutt Strut came from her observation that “La Jolla is a huge dog-loving town.” Also, organizers were concerned about having an indoor gala given the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wharton said she hopes this will become an annual event, only larger, possibly involving a road closure. She said other pet-involved fundraisers might be planned throughout the year. ◆