By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent May 8, 2013 4:22PM
Kendra Becker of Portage, with Arbor View Animal Hospital in Valparaiso, holds "Shelby", a boxer mix owned by Denise Fabian of Porter Township, while he has a tracking microchip inserted in his neck on Saturday, April 27, 2013. The service was offered as part of the 16th Annual Be Kind to Animals Celebration at the Porter County Expo Center. | Michael Gard~For Sun-Times Media
For more on the Porter County Animal Shelter, 2056 Heavilin Road, Valparaiso, call 465-3550, or go to www.portercoanimalshelter.com.
Rhonda Ward was clearly drawn to Copper, a young beagle being fostered by the Molenda family through All Breed Rescue.
Ward asked Julie Molenda how old Copper was, and Molenda assured Ward that, if she went out of town, the family would be more than happy to take him back in.
“He’s really the best,” Molenda, of Hobart, said.
But Ward hesitated, wondering aloud why she’d come to the 16th annual Be Kind to Animals celebration on April 27 at the Porter County Expo Center. Her own beagle died just a couple of weeks ago, she said, and upcoming travel plans made adopting another dog difficult for now.
“I was just seeing what was out here and what was available,” said Ward, of Valparaiso, adding she came to the pet-friendly event with her sister and her sister’s two dogs. “Plus, I love animals.”
So did everyone else who showed up that day. The event, sponsored by the Porter County Animal Shelter, drew almost 50 booths for vendors and rescue groups. It’s grown so much over the years that Julie Sausman, the shelter’s volunteer coordinator, said she expects it will occupy two buildings next year.
The pet-themed gathering is held in late April every year to kick off Be Kind to Animals Week, which was started by the American Humane Association, Sausman said, adding the free event often draws more than 3,000 people.
“This is about getting people in, getting them educated and getting them exposed” to the shelter and rescue groups, Sausman said, especially since rescue groups help foster animals for the shelter. “It’s a way for us to give back to them.”
Dave Dahms, director of Cast-A-Way Critters in Hobart, has been coming to Be Kind to Animals Day since it started. He’s fostered animals for the shelter for several years as well, including horses, chickens, and other animals that are difficult to keep on shelter grounds.
The event didn’t just get the word out to the public about Dahms’ rescue group. “It provides excellent networking with other rescue groups,” he said.