FLORENCE, S.C. — Humans and their canine companions turned out en masse on July 27 at Southern Hops for Grateful Dog and to support a cause near and dear to most of their hearts: the humane treatment of pets.

"The Grateful dog event is getting bigger every year. It's a wonderful opportunity for folks to come out, bring their pets and enjoy the music but also to support a great cause," said Jane Boswell with the Florence Area Humane Society, one of the three that will benefit from the event.

The brew pub's parking lot filled with attendees and vendors while neighboring fields and parking lots filled as well as several hundred people turned out for the event.

Out back of Southern Hops, bands played on a stage under a tent. Inside, bands played either on or in front of a stage at the front of the building.

Either way fans listened, danced and encouraged the musicians (occasionally with a woof or bark), who, in turn, were encouraged to make at least half of their sets be Grateful Dead songs in honor of Jerry Garcia, in whose honor the event started.

The bands, which were expected to number from 25 to 30 all told, donated their time and talent to the cause.

"Three shelters are going to get a lot of help from this one event and a chance to save a lot of lives," Boswell said.

Darlington and Marlboro area humane societies will also benefit from money raised through the event.

This year’s Grateful Dog is expected to raise $25,000 to $30,000. Sponsorships account for much of the money raised, and this year, the team is excited to welcome many new sponsors, including First Reliance Bank and New South Brewery in Myrtle Beach.

"We're always grateful for what we get," Boswell said.

The festival started with a golf tournament on July 26 and ended Saturday with a benefit ride. The Grateful Dog Biker run ended with live music at Shiner’s Bar in Coward.

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Digital Editor Matt Robertson is a veteran journalist who has fulfilled just about every role that a newspaper has and now serves as a key member of the Morning News' newsroom by maintaining SCNow.com and covering the occasional story and photo assignment.

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