MANSFIELD -- It was a Thanksgiving feast fit for a king, er, a dog. A lot of dogs, in fact.
More than 50 canines at the Richland County Dog Warden's Office and Shelter recently enjoyed a howling good holiday meal, thanks to the annual efforts of a local family.
A video of the feast was placed on the agency's website and went viral, according to dog warden Missy Houghton, who said it's received 2.5 million views.
"It's all because of the Barker family," said Houghton, who joined the office as a deputy in 2019 and became the warden eight months ago. "They call ahead of time and see how many dogs we have for the meal."
On the Saturday before U.S. humans sat down to Thanksgiving meals, 54 dogs at the shelter were surprised with bowls full of turkey, sweet potatoes, green beans and pureed pumpkin.
Houghton said all of the portions were small enough not to cause gastric issues for the dogs.
What was the favorite food of the pooches?
"None of them turned their nose up at any of it," Houghton said with a laugh. "But I would say turkey was the big favorite."
The public response to the video was gratifying -- and valuable, according to Houghton, who directed the local Humane Society for 13 years before joining the dog warden's office.
"Social media is such a huge factor in getting shelter animals placed into homes," she said, adding the shelter has seen an uptick in dogs at the shelter since the beginning of November.
The holidays are also a special time for shelter pets awaiting forever homes.
"Around the holidays, especially, people look for ways to give back. It doesn't have to be a monetary donation to help shelter animals. Sometimes people just want to come and spend time with our dogs.
"We appreciate any ideas or gestures people can make on behalf of our animals," Houghton said.
The adoption fee for the rest of 2021 is $169, which includes spay/neuter costs, all vaccines, microchip and dog license. The fee will go back to $199 after Dec. 31 as the impact of a one-time donation to the kennel ends.
As of Thursday morning, there were 26 dogs available for adoption, which doesn't include recent strays for whom time is given for their owners to claim them.