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Tuesday, 23 September 2014 00:00

Belly Dancers Promote Pet Adoptions - Annual ‘Shimmy for Critters’ Livens Up Shelter

TUESDAY, Sept. 23, 2014 – Riverside County's largest animal shelter will get energized this Saturday, Oct. 4, when dozens of belly dancers help promote pet adoptions.

The shelter will have special adoption rates during the Shimmy for Critters event, which runs 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with performances and various food and crafts vendors. And one famous dancer's charitable organization is sponsoring the first 25 pet adoptions, giving early-arriving families the opportunity to adopt a dog or cat for free.

That organization, the Carrie Ann Inaba Animal Project, was started by Ms. Inaba, a judge on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" and one of the original Fly Girls on FOX television's 1990s sketch comedy show, "In Living Color."

After the Inaba-sponsored first 25 adoptions, Riverside County is offering pets for just $20. The event is co- sponsored by the Animal Solutions Konnection (ASK) Foundation, a nonprofit, charitable organization focused on helping Riverside County Animal Services with programs that benefit local animals and pet owners.

The belly dancers are part of a tradition at the shelter. A former shelter employee and belly dancer, Marilyn Chocron, pitched the fun event to Animal Services Director Robert Miller, who OK'd the unique partnership.

All the dancers perform for free and the lively performances are done in the spirit of helping raise awareness to homeless dogs and cats and the pet overpopulation problem. More than 50 are scheduled to participate.

"When we first heard of the idea, it was something very original," Director Miller said. "It's a lively celebration between two groups of people striving toward a common goal."

Chocron, whose belly dancer name was "Maarifa," died of cancer in 2013. But her legacy lives on with some of her close friends returning to the shelter. "Many people may not necessarily connect belly dancing and pets," Miller said. "But we have learned that many belly dancers share a kindred spirit with the Earth and all of its creatures. Certainly Marilyn showed her love toward our pets, and we thank her friends for carrying that torch."

In addition to her dancing and choreography background, Inaba has been involved in animal advocacy since she was a girl. Learn more about her and her foundation here: http://www.caiap.org/

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