The howls and barks of hundreds of dogs filled the air over early Sunday morning as pets and families came out in force to pound the pavement at the annual walk-a-thon.
Pooches and families enjoyed the beautiful fall weather with a calm mile and a half stroll though the park while raising money for the New Rochelle Humane Society and Pet Rescue. The proceeds of the event will benefit both organizations. This year a portion of the profits will serve as a donation to aide the Mount Vernon Animal Shelter.
“There are so many places where dogs can’t go. So we hope that they can come here and socialize and enjoy the space,” said Dianne Heim, a board member of the New Rochelle Humane Society.
Participants got to enjoy stunning views of the Long Island Sound and plenty of parkland for their pets to stretch out and socialize.
Everyone who signed up to take part in the walk got a bandanna emblazoned with the Hounds on the Sound logo. Those who managed to raise more than $100 for the cause also got a free T-shirt commemorating the event.
About 250 bandannas were waiting for pups at the start of the event—with more waiting for walk-ons throughout the day.
Owners had a wide selection of vendors ranging from fresh wholesome pet foods to doggie portraits.
Children could take part in face painting and pet education. Low cost microchipping and vet services were also offered on site.
Folks just enjoying the day in that park were also given the chance to find their special little pet, with cat and dog adoptions happening throughout the day.
Peggy Moss of Manhattan heard of the event through her friend. She made the trek from the city to see if she could find a new best friend. She had seen Liam on a web page and wanted to meet him in person. Moss took him home after tying the light green bandanna around his neck.
"I couldn't believe how big it is and how many dogs are here. I am so glad I came," Moss said, adding, "I can't wait till next year. As long as I have a ride from the train—I'll keep coming."
Irma Jansen of Armonk adopted her two beagles, Trooper and Hunter, from Pet Rescue. She was experiencing the dog fiesta for the first time and was astonished at the site of so many dogs.
“It’s marvelous. We are having such an amazing time. It is such a great cause, and the people at Pet Rescue do such a good job, it is so worth coming out. I am definitely coming back next year,” Jensen said, as she reigned in her pooches.
A third-year veteran of the walk, Kim Paulin of New Rochelle remarked on the importance of such an event and the role it plays in the community. “It is a great way for kids to see how important pets are to society. It’s just a great day to spend with your dog and you’re your family,” she said.
Close to 100 volunteers helped staff the event and CBS New York’s Lou Young served as the Master of Ceremonies. Young, a veteran newscaste,r adopted his own dog Molly from Pet Rescue and a cat Sasha from the New Rochelle Humane Society. Young joked that the animals are ”sometimes the most sane mammals in the house.”
Young presented badges denoting the grand marshals of the walk to Sweetums of the Humane Society and Baby Girl from Pet Rescue. He also served as the ribbon cutter for the walk—but the newscaster had to improvise a way to get the walk started, as no scissors were available. A pair of keys fit the bill and the ribbon and the pooches took to the paths enforce.
The reporter was adamant about the importance of such organizations and their hard work and was proud of being part of the event.
“Animals are living creatures. They are not a commodity and are not to be discarded. When you look into the eyes of a dog. You look into the eyes of a living creature,” Young said.
That sentiment was echoed by many of those participating in the walk, many of whom had adopted their beloved pet from one of the two organizations involved.
“People come to show off their pets. They love that they came from the shelter and come with smiles and love, “ said Diane Heim.
But it was a City Island resident that encapsulated the spirit of the day.
Dianne Ortmann adopted a pooch from Pet Rescue before, but recently she found a new little dog at her job site on Staten Island just a few days ago. She purchased a bandanna and proudly tied it around the neck of her new friend who trotted next to her softly.
“It’s a day for them not a day for us,” Ortmann noted.