By Rodolfo Roman
Downtown Miami will be invaded by thousands of dogs on Saturday.
Pooches of every breed will strut their stuff at the 11th annual Purina Walk for the Animals to benefit the Humane Society of Greater Miami. About 3,000 people will walk with their pets at downtown Miami’s Bayfront Park. The event will run from 8:30 a.m. to noon, with a walk of less than on4e mile around the park. The stroll begins at 10 a.m.
“As a not-for-profit organization not funded by the government, we rely on donations, grants and fundraising events like the Walk for the Animals to support our mission,” said Laurie Hoffman, a spokeswoman for the Humane Society of Greater Miami.
The event has been held at Bayfront Park for the last five plus years. Before that, it was held at other places , including Lummus Park in Miami Beach.
The walk is free, but participants who pay the $50 registration fee will receive a goodie bag, an event t-shirt and a doggie bandana.
“This money will be used to care for more than 300 animals that are in our shelter daily, as well as support our programs and services,” said Hoffman.
Last year, the walk raised $150,000. This year’s goal is $160,000.
The walk gathers people and animals of different ages Hoffman said.
“This is a great community event where animal lovers from all over South Florida gather together to enjoy time with their pets, meet and mingle, listen to great music provided by 101.5 LiteFM and Vicious Red, win prizes at sponsor booths, as well as partake in fun activities and demonstrations for adults and children – both two-legged and four,” she wrote in an e-mail. “And most importantly, everyone is helping the Humane Society of Greater Miami fulfill its mission of providing a safe haven for all the animals in its care, free from the threat of euthanasia, for as long as it takes to find them a home.”
Miami City Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff will serve as the Grand Marshall. University of Miami President Donna Shalala, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally Heyman and NBC6 Meteorologist Ryan Phillips also will be attending.
After or before the walk, participants can grab a snack as there will be a variety of food from different vendors for humans, and treats for the dogs. Several sponsors will be giving away items and prizes.
Aside from the fun, pet lovers can learn about the Humane Society of Greater Miami and its program.
“We encourage people to be responsible pet owners and we promote spay/neuter programs,” she said.