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Dog Ugly Sweater Contest Benefits Rescue Group

Photo by Stephen Hunt

Irving—Over the past few years, ugly Christmas sweaters have become a big thing, and ugly sweater contests have become an annual fixture each holiday season. Epic Animal Rescue held their ugly sweater contest at The Ginger Man in Las Colinas on Thursday, Dec. 9, and it was a big hit.

“I think this our third [ugliest sweater] event,”Epic Animal Rescue founder Tressa Broadhead said. “They have been some of our most popular events. People love to dress up their pets like them, right? We usually give away prizes for ugliest sweater, best duo, best couple. Those [prize packs] usually include gift cards from the venue as well as some of our swag like t-shirts and hats.”

In 2016, Broadhead quit her job to start Epic Animal Rescue, a 100-percent volunteer organization, which is a foster-based rescue, where people take rescued animals into their homes.

“We take in dogs from a number of sources,” Broadhead said. “Oftentimes, they’re from shelters.Sometimes it’s from owner surrenders, people who are unable to keep their pets, and sometimes they literally come off the streets.”

Epic Rescue has events about every six weeks. However, certain types of events seem to draw bigger turnouts than others.

“I really enjoy doing events at bars,” Broadhead said. “They tend to be a lot of fun for everybody. The stand-alone adoption events where you’re at a Petsmart or something like that don’t really get as much foot traffic or participation as we do when we have them at an event location like the Ginger Man. They have been a great event partner of ours. We’ve been doing events with them for years.

“When people are able to drink, eat, and mingle with the dogs in their own timeframe, it tends to work out very well for everybody.”

Event attendees were asked to cast their vote for the dog wearing the ugliest sweater via Instagram.

The Ginger Man donated a portion of food and beverage receipts to Epic Rescue.

Around a dozen dogs, most sporting Christmas sweaters, and their pet parentsshowed up for the event.

There were big dogs like a Rhodesian ridgeback, a Labrador, and a Weimaraner, two bulldogs, an English and a French, and assorted other mixed breeds, including at least one dog which is currently up for adoption.

Naturally, there was plenty of tail wagging, head pats, friendly licks, and ample cuddling by the four-legged friends in attendance. Numerous photos were also taken of all the dogs at the event, who did a minimal amount of barking.

“2020 was pretty much a bust,” Broadhead said. “We had several events on the books, and they didn’t happen. I don’t think our first event was until the fall of 2020, and I believe we did have an ugly sweater contest last year, but 2021 has seen a little bit more of an increase in participation.

“It was a really busy time for us in 2020. It seemed like everybody got a COVID dog, but it worked out well for us. It’s been fine.”

Epic Animal Rescue is a group which consists of 100 volunteers, who Broadhead credits for successful events like this and for the great work they do to benefit animals.

“There are so many aspects of dog rescue that people don’t really think about,” Broadhead said. “It’s the back-office stuff that doesn’t sound so fun. Everybody wants to play with a dog, nobody wants to post on social media. It’s really doing that back-end stuff, we have found more volunteers to do some of those items, because they couldn’t get out and do things one-on-one with the animals. We’ve had an uptick of volunteers that are willing to help us do other things.”