Pups and parents to promenade in the park for fundraiser
By Jessica Creagan
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- There will be barking and fetching and lots of tail wagging at Riverside Park later this month.
On Jan. 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County and the Young Professionals Network of Indian River County are once again teaming up for a "Bark in the Park" fundraiser.
Last year, the attendance at the event more than quadrupled expectations, said Tim Swift, development director for the animal shelter.
"We had about 3,000 people and 500 dogs show up, and we're expecting this year's event will be even bigger," Mr. Swift said.
Bark in the Park is a fundraising walk benefitting the local Humane Society with activities and entertainment for humans and their furry, four-legged friends alike.
"The event is free, but obviously it is a fundraiser and we would love for people to give a donation for their walk," Mr. Swift said.
All the funds collected will help the animal shelter care for the approximately 7,000 homeless pets in Indian River County they see in one year.
The "dog parade" is about a 1.5 mile course, and it is not a race, so it can be taken at leisure, Mr. Swift said.
This year's event fundraising goal is $25,000, nearly double the amount that was raised during last year's event.
"We think so many people came out last year because they were looking for an event they could take their dog to," Mr. Swift said.
As a rule, service dogs are the only dogs allowed in Riverside Park, but a special permit was obtained so the nonprofit could hold the event with man's best friend.
Participants that sign up and raise at least $25for doing the walk will receive a T-shirt and a bandana for their pet, Mr. Swift said.
Food and merchandise vendors and a local radio station will also be at the event.
"We will have ice cream, snow cones, barbeque, hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza and more. There will also be treats for dogs, of course," Mr. Swift said.
Entertainment-wise, the crowds are sure to love watching a presentation by The Disc-Connected K9s, world champion Frisbee dogs.
"These dogs were very popular at last year's event. They put on a tremendous show, I've been amazed," Mr. Swift said.
The trained dogs were all rescued and specially trained to perform incredible tricks that require speed and agility.
Like the dogs and other animals at the animal shelter in Indian River County, these dogs first had to have community support to keep them alive.
Another fun activity for dogs at the Bark in the Park event will be the lure coursing area.
Dogs will be able to chase a mechanically operated lure through a course and run to their hearts content. The course will be set up in the park and can be used on a first-come, first serve, basis, Mr. Swift said.
"It should be very entertaining for the dogs, and for people too," he said with a chuckle.
To sign up, or for more information about Bark in the Park, call (772) 388-3826 or visit www.barkintheparkvero.com.