On a crisp, clear Saturday morning, with brightly colored leaves crunching underfoot, hundreds of furry four-legged creatures, and even three-legged ones as well, stretched and strutted down a mile and a half of the Philadelphia Navy Yard to support the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society's (PAWS) 7th Annual Mutt 'n Strut fall fundraiser held October 19, 2013, many spiritedly disguised in their most spooktacular holiday attire. Hosted by one of Philadelphia's premier rock stations, 93.3 WMMR, the event boasted yoga exercises, paw print painting, pet portraits, pet contests, veterinary information booths, pet fire safety demonstrations, a pet Reiki practitioner, numerous vendors of pet-centric products and services, food, live music from Philadelphia's own Clashing Plaid, and some of the most adorable adoptable rescue pups this side of the Susquehanna. Inaugurating its first year at the Philadelphia Navy Yard's sprawling campus on South Broad Street, the Strut impressed first-time and veteran attendees alike with its inviting new locale and the variety of activities expertly organized by the people at PAWS. Caitlin and Dan Lagrotte, who've been patronizing the PAWS Mutt 'n Strut for six years with their Bloodhound and Pit Bull pooches, appreciated the change of venue. "It's great!", they concurred, "It's bigger this year!" Newcomers Pat and Meghan Strange of Philadelphia together with their young granddaughter/niece, Grace, a renowned dog lover herself, were emphatic in their enthusiasm for this "amazing event", which they described as "very fun and for a great cause." By all accounts, the 2013 PAWS' Mutt 'n Strut was a doggone delight that already has tails waggin' in anticipation of next year's stroll.
Meanwhile, up the street (I-95) in Media, Delaware County on Saturday, folks gathered with their canine companions in pastoral Rose Tree Park on North Providence Road in Upper Providence Township to combat pet homelessness with the Delaware County SPCA at its 7th Annual Bark in the Park Dog Walk. This year, patrons had the option of either bringing their own household pet or "renting" a shelter dog to exercise in the park. The roughly two-mile rollicking romp culminated in a sprightly Fall Festival featuring pet-friendly vendors, tastebud-tempting treats for pets and their parents, face painting, karaoke, lighthearted dog-themed contests, including the selection of a King and Queen alumnus, respectively, from a pool of former Delaware County SPCA rescues successfully adopted out, a Pit Bull Kissing Booth, and a low-cost clinic offering affordable veterinary care ranging from vaccinations to microchipping services, as well as do-it-yourself doggy DNA kits. Local rescue organizations staffed information tables and adoption opportunities abounded for dog and cat lovers alike, enhanced by the liberal donations of compassionate patrons, including one particularly generous soul who subsidized the adoption fee for all of the eligible felines.
The community response to this year's fundraiser exceeded all expectations. "It's the best turnout we've ever had," Justina Calgiano, Delaware County SPCA's Director of Community Relations, revealed. In fact, the number of attendees at Bark in the Park 2013 filled the park to capacity. According to Ms. Calgiano, "That's never happened before!"
Why is Bark in the Park such a perennial favorite? As Steve Morrison, radio personality and one-half of the famed duo hosting 93.3 WMMR's popular "Preston & Steve" morning show, who emceed the day's "competitive" events, succinctly put it, Bark in the Park "has a great vibe." He explained, "The Delaware County SPCA is very committed to saving the animals and also creating an atmosphere in which people can be positive and motivated to help the animals. There is a very community-oriented, 'bake sale', organic feel to it."
Pet lovers from far and wide agree. "I love it! We're having so much fun!" exclaimed Debbie Roberts of North Wilmington, who attended the festival for the first time with her Rat Terrier, Sir Lancelot of Devonshire, and her Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix, Cindy Lou Who from Whoville, both of whom were festooned in their most fanciful fall finery. Megan and Mark from Drexel Hill have been coming to Bark in the Park for four years with their Great Pyrenees rescue, Mr. Biggs. "It's always really nice," they affirmed. If 2013 is any indicator, this is one pet event you don't want to miss next year!