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Courier-Post, First Page, Section B

Dogs have their day at fund-raiser

Voorhees shelter event featured woman who listened to pets' tales of woe

By Frank Kummer, Courier-Post Staff

VOORHEES - Maggie, it turns out, was suffering from feelings of inadequacy: That she was too small or old and stepped on in life, despite her beautiful, flowing hair and general adorableness. At least that's what the 6-year-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi "told" Elizabeth Severino, the "Horse Whisperer" of the canine kingdom.

    Severino, a Cherry Hill resident and self-described "animal communicator," was one of the more novel vendors Saturday at the third annual Woofstock, sponsored by the animal Orphanage on Cooper Road here.

    As an animal communicator, Severino said, she reads the energy given off by pets and can translate that into human language.

    She stroked and cajoled Maggie to tell all as owner Lynne O'Connor of Turnersville looked on, impressed at Severino's insights into the plight of her pet.

    Maggie, as Severino noted without knowing her history, is the smallest of five dogs in her home and is frequently given to melancholy bouts of staring listlessly at her mistress.

    "I always wanted to know what she was thinking as she sat there staring at me," O'Connor said.

    Now she knows.

    Woofstock is a volunteer effort designed to raise money for the shelter, which needs about $250,000 a year to operate, according to event coordinator Eileen Stukas.

    About 1,000 people were expected to attend, up from about 700 last year. Cars lined busy Cooper Road, often causing minor traffic delays as vans filled with pets and children unloaded.

     Organizers hoped to raise about $3,000. Most of the other money needed will come from adoption fees, other fund raising and contracts with Camden County to provide temporary homes for stray pets.

    "The purpose is to raise awareness of the plight of homeless animals and foster responsible pet ownership," Stukas said of the event.

    She also said it was a chance to showcase some respectable vendors in the area.

    The Animal Orphanage houses 75 dogs and cats. Most are held as long as possible, depending on their "temperament."

    "Temperament is one of the most important factors that determines whether they're adoptable," according to Stukas.
Inside the shelter, Melanie Zintner, 28, of Philadelphia, who works nearby, was perusing cage after cage of dogs to see if there was one with a temperament suitable to her.

    She already has a Rottweiler at home, but felt she needed a second pet.

    "I would love to adopt this dog," she said, pointing to Murray, a 10-month-old beagle staring up at her with seemingly pleading eyes.

    Back outside, Michael Bione was cajoling prospective customers to try Nutro pet foods, which are designed to improve skin and coats. He is the company's district manager for the company.

    The foods contain no animal byproducts.

    The Animal Orphanage has two more events next month. Two Adoptathons will be held Sept. 12 and 13 at two separate PetsMart locations in Berlin and Moorestown. And a silent auction will be held Sept. 25 at Voorhees Middle School.

    Anyone interested in attending those events, adopting an animal or volunteering can call 627-9111.

Reproduced with permission. Original article printed Sunday, August 23, 1998.

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Elizabeth Severino, D.D., D.R.S.

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