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Ponying up for pets (with video)

LAKEWOOD RANCH — The ponies are set to gallop to the aid of homeless dogs and cats.

A charity polo event, Ponies for Pups, begins at 11:30 a.m. Saturday with a tailgating competition, pooch parade, silent auction and more. The polo match begins at 1 p.m. at Lakewood Ranch’s Sarasota Polo Club.

Polo players competed Thursday in preliminary matches to determine who would play in Saturday’s match.

“It’ll be fun,” said Mary Ellen Paterson, of the Sarasota Polo Club.

There will be the usual polo match Sunday, but an additional charity match on a Saturday is a rarity.

A few miles away, Honor Sanctuary Animal Rescue volunteers were working with homeless dogs at their intake facility.

The volunteers are all animal lovers of the first pedigree.

Kimberly Henley, a Myakka City resident, spent time with Suzie Q, a black-and-tan hound, and Folsom, a handsome brindle-and-white mix.

At one point, caught in a tug-of-war between the two dogs, she tumbled over backward and popped up laughing.

Henley has four dachshunds and a boxer-pit bull mix at home, plus horses and cats.

The volunteers work hard to make sure homeless dogs never had it so good. Each dog has a 12-by-12 stall in a former horse barn and gets to spend six hours a day romping outside in large fenced enclosures.

But the Honor volunteers want a permanent home for each of the animals. They will bring some of the dogs to Ponies for Pups in hopes someone will fall in love with them.

Tickets for pavilion seating and a catered lunch are $25. Tickets for tailgating on the north side of the field are $10.

Tailgaters bring their own food and will be judged on the creativity of their spread by County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, herself an animal lover, said Cindy Morton, founder of Honor Sanctuary,

To purchase tickets, visit or call (941) 545-8734.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee Editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.

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