For the last four years, Courtney Brooks has willingly jumped into the ocean in freezing winter temperatures — all in the name of helping shelter animals.
Brooks is the community outreach coordinator for the New Hampshire SPCA in Stratham and helps put on the Doggie Paddle Plunge, one of the shelter’s newest fundraisers.
“Honestly, living in New England, people have a great sense of pride. We’re really hardy and really gritty. The winter is bitterly cold, and it takes a certain breed of people to do this,” Brooks said.
Brooks is hoping to see a good turnout and said the monetary goal is $20,000.
“The people who do this are absolutely committed to the cause and want to support the animals. [The plunge] attracts a certain type of person that wants to go above and beyond and that’s willing to do anything,” she said.
Even though the plunge is named for dogs, Brooks said the fundraiser will help all the animals in the shelter. Right now the shelter cares for 2,500 animals ranging from dogs and cats to smaller animals such as rabbits and birds. The shelter also cares for horses.
“We are the only full-service shelter in New Hampshire. We provide the animals with food, medical care and shelter until they find their forever home,” Brooks said.
The fundraiser will help with the expenses for food and medical care. The shelter has an unlimited stay for these animals.
“It’s extremely important to note that this fundraiser sustains that service for all our animals,” Brooks said.
As for plunging, Brooks said you don’t even realize it’s cold.
“It’s really fun and the energy of the event is so contagious. You don’t really feel the cold; you don’t think too much about it,” she said. “In retrospect, it’s not about the temperature, it’s about the animals.”
Brooks owns a dachshund and a retired racing greyhound, both former shelter dogs. She said the dogs have brought happiness to her life and knows animals at the shelter can “bring joy to other people’s lives the same way.”
The plunge will have prizes for a costume contest and clothing for those who raise a certain amount of money. There will also be coffee and a light breakfast before the plunge and lunch available post-plunge.
Brooks noted that as much as this event is for the animals, the plunge itself is only for people — pets should stay at home.
“I think that all the people who participate and donate show an extreme pride in the community and what the shelter does to help any and all animals in need and for us to keep doing it in the future,” Brooks said.
As seen in the February 13, 2014 issue of the Hippo.