'Paws in the Park' returns to Escondido March 24

Participants and their dogs walking in last year’s Paws in the Park, an event that raised $110,000 for Escondido Humane Society.
Participants and their dogs walking in last year’s Paws in the Park, an event that raised $110,000 for Escondido Humane Society.

By Elizabeth Marie Himchak

Dressing your dog up as your favorite celebrity or getting it to play a canine version of basketball are two new additions to the upcoming Paws in the Park.

The 14th annual fundraiser benefiting Escondido Humane Society will be 8 a.m. to noon Sunday, March 24 in Kit Carson Park, 3333 Bear Valley Parkway in Escondido. All activities are free, but walkers are encouraged to solicit pledges from their relatives, neighbors, friends and coworkers.

Owners of all pet types are welcome to attend and walk in honor of their family members, but only dogs on leashes may accompany their pet parents at the event, according to Katie Woolsey, EHS spokeswoman.

The event will begin at 8 a.m. with registration and a meet and greet. The walk begins at 9 a.m., with participants having a choice of a 1.5-mile or 2.5-mile course. The free games, contests and other activities along with a vendor expo will begin at 10:15 a.m.

Woolsey said there will be two new contests — “Paw-parazzi Parade” and “Hoosier Hounds.”

For the parade, dogs are to be dressed as a celebrity. Judging the entrants will be representatives from Animal Actors International, who provided the Great Danes used in a Lady Gaga video, Woolsey said.

As for “Hoosier Hounds,” Woolsey said the contest is likely to be “interesting,” since dog owners will toss a ball to their canine partner, who has to get the ball down the lane and into the basket.

Other activities will include various games, opportunity drawings, giveaways and shopping at the Paw vendor expo that will have at least 50 vendors selling everything from fancy leashes to pet apparel and treats, Woolsey said. She is advising attendees to bring cash since not all of the vendors accept credit cards.

Additional entertainment will be provided by the Ballistic Racers Flyball Team, a group of dogs Woolsey said are “fun to watch ... and very well trained.”

Since the free event is the humane society’s second-largest annual fundraiser, Woolsey is encouraging participants to make a donation or seek pledges. Incentives such as T-shirts, doggie bandanas and gift cards ranging from $15 to $250 in value are available when various fundraising amounts are reached, starting at $50 and going up to $2,500. For fundraising information and suggestions, go to www.escondidohumanesociety.org or call 760-888-2235.

Online registration closes at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 23 and day-of-event registration begins at 8 a.m. Those not able to attend the March 24 event can still fundraise by being a virtual walker. See the website for details.

Woolsey said around 1,200 people plus many dogs attended Paws in the Park last year, which raised $110,000 for Escondido Humane Society. This year organizers have set the same fundraiser goal as last year — $100,000 — and they are hoping to once again exceed the amount.

Escondido Humane Society cares for 6,000 homeless animals annually. Its adoption center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily at 3450 E. Valley Parkway in Escondido. For questions, call 760-888-BARK (2275).

   
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