Dogtoberfest: How Dog Owners Come Together to Support a No-Kill Animal Shelter  

Story by: Kara Scarbrough

On a lively Friday night in downtown St. Augustine, a wide variety of dogs accompanied their owners dressed as anything but a dog. From pumpkins to alligators, these dogs were dressed to impressed.  

For the last four years, Colonial Oak Music Park hosts Dogtoberfest, a night filled with music, food, drinks and of course, dogs. Customers are encouraged to dress their dogs for a chance to win the costume contest.  

The real winner of Dogtoberfest is Ayla’s Acres No-Kill Animal Rescue.  

“We have about 50 animals in foster care,” said Fran Charlson, executive director of Ayla’s Acres. “We need to be able to get them vet care, food, and anything that they need.”  

The shelter consists of paid staff and volunteers who all work to take care of the animals in their sanctuary. Other than dogs, they have horses, cats, birds and more that have to be cared for daily. Dog owners in attendance that night appreciated the mission of this shelter.  

“Some of those dogs, just like humans, they know what a bad life is,” said Mathew Spyker, as he looked down Tyson, his well-behaved dog sitting nicely beneath him. “When they get a kind owner that can show them love, compassion and grace, you know that they’ll be affectionate and they’ll be dedicated to them for the rest of their lives.” 

From Dogtoberfest, the rescue benefits from a 50/50 raffle and a silent auction. Colonial Oaks also sells a “Rescue Drink,” from which Ayla’s Acres receives $2 from every sale.  

According to 8-year volunteer Sharon Kramer, Dogtoberfest is not the only event put on by Colonial Oaks in support of the rescue.  

“They have events all throughout the year and sometimes will benefit us,” said Kramer. “Sometimes they will benefit other organizations in Saint Augustine and Saint John’s County.” 

Most of the dogs in attendance were tuckered out before the end of the night, but the music kept the park’s energy up, along with the funds raised for the shelter.