Fair brings awareness for homeless animals
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent August 23, 2014 3:16PM
A doggie parade was part of the festivities Saturday at PAWS for Homeless Animals fundraiser and awareness event. | Karen Caffarini~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 26, 2014 12:44PM
HOBART — It was one of those dog days of summer on Saturday at Festival Park.
Dogs of all sizes, ages and breeds — as well as some cats, rats and guinea pigs — converged on the Hobart park to participate in the Kibble Kitchen Pet Pantry’s third annual PAWS for Homeless Animals event.
The event is held to raise awareness of homeless animals in the area and raise funds for the pet pantry, which assists pet owners in Porter County, Lake Station, New Chicago and Hobart who are facing financial hardship, founder Michelle Duca said.
“This wasn’t meant to be a fundraiser for us. It was more about raising awareness of homeless animals. It turned out to be a big fundraiser, though,” Duca said.
She said the event grew from 50 vendors last year to more than 70 this year.
Most of the animals came with their owners. Some were there in hopes of finding a home.
With more than 70 vendors on hand and different events scheduled, visitors were able to have their pet’s photo taken, buy them homemade treats and outfits, participate in a parade and have their pet blessed by Rev. Andrew Corona of Nativity of Our Savior Church in Portage, among other possibilities.
Britney Wilson, of Hobart, brought her dog Isis, who stood regally and patiently, waiting for the first event, a dog parade, to begin.
More than 4 feet tall when standing on all four legs, the Great Dane was just the right size to get a big hug from Jaydin Coleman, 4, as Jaydin sat on her mom Wilson’s lap.
“They’ve grown up together,” Wilson said.
Max was checking out other dogs at the park. Adopted as a puppy from the Hobart Humane Society, the 2-year-old Rottweiller mix came to the event with his family, Mike and Yvette Sutherland and their daughter Haley.
“They’re best friends. They even share a birthday,” Yvette Sutherland said of Haley and Max.
Julie Drake, of Midwest Brews beagle rescue and education agency, said events like this one are a great help in finding families for the dogs, which are pulled out of shelters, animal control and other facilities.
“Outreach is important, especially in Northwest Indiana, where we only have three volunteers,” said Drake, of Valparaiso.
She brought along her beagle, Ruby, and one that’s looking for a home, Teddy.
Drake wants to make sure Teddy, and all dogs adopted through Midwest Brews, end up in the right home. An interested person must fill out an application and go through a phone invterview and home screening visit.
“Beagles tend to run. They’re not for everyone,” Drake said.
Denise Robinson was selling homemade dog treats at the event to raise money for her son’s service dog Izzy. Robinson’s 22-year-old son has postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome with autonomic failure, which causes his blood pressure to drop and his heart rate to rise causing him to pass out. At that point, he usually ends up in intensive care at a hospital.
Izzy, a terrier mix, senses the upcoming attacks and alerts her son before it happens.
“Izzy’s my son’s lifeline. He couldn’t do half the things he does without Izzy,” Robinson said.
She said her son was with Izzy for just three hours when the dog issued its first alert.
Izzy still needs further training, however, and Robinson has been working every event possible to help offset the costs.