Hundreds of dogs and their owners braved the heat wave Saturday to come to Overpeck County Park for the sixth Bark in the Park outing, which offered dog lovers the opportunity to shop, play and celebrate all things canine.
The annual event — hosted by Cumulus radio stations Nash FM 94.7, 95.5 PLJ and 77WABC — offered activities like a dog-agility course, a peanut butter eating competition, and a dog and owner look-a-like contest. Organizers also came well-equipped with sprinklers, pools and bowls filled with water for man’s best friend as temperatures skyrocketed.
A dog looking up from his baby pool Saturday during the annual Bark in the Park fundraiser and adoption event where temperatures soared.
Leslie Slender, founder of the event, said Saturday was more than just a celebration of locals’ love for their own dogs. It was also a time |for would-be owners to meet animals that could be their future companions.
“The mission of the day is to get as many dogs adopted as possible,” she said.
Two rescue organizations, Union-based Shake a Paw Center for Rescue and Adoption and Long Island-based North Shore Animal League America, were on hand to help meet that mission.
Each brought their own trucks, similar to the ones used at blood drives, that housed a combined total of about 30 adoptable dogs. Would-be dog owners could adopt any of these dogs on the spot. By midway through the event, at least one-fifth of those dogs found new homes.
“Last year, all of our dogs got adopted,” said Kaylynn Bush, adoption manager for Shake A Paw, who said the group had eight dogs up for adoption at the event. “One dog already got adopted before we even started.”
According to Matthew Carrol, off-site operations manager for North Shore, the organization was on track midway through the one-day event to do as well as it did last year, if not better. Last year, 16 dogs were adopted of the 25 or 30 that were available. By noon, dozens of people were lined up outside the North Shore rescue truck, and four dogs had already found homes. He noted the line was “a lot longer than last year.”
“We do events every weekend,” said Carrol. “Something like this where there are thousands of people — it’s a great opportunity.”
Among those on the North Shore line was the Li family, who took home a hound mix they named Priscilla.
“We’ve wanted a dog for a while,” said Joe Li of Scotch Plains, who walked out of the rescue truck holding the golden-haired puppy. “My daughter has been asking, too.”
His daughter, 10-year-old Isabelle, held her new puppy closely as strangers congratulated her.“I’ve been wanting a dog for two years,” she said with a grin, as Priscilla snuggled into her arms.
The free event also brought together dozens of businesses that offered a variety of services for dog owners, including grooming, hiking, training, health care, clothing and food.
Tony Quinones, who works at a Secaucus-based pet-food company, said there were more people at this year’s event than last year.
“I would think it would be the opposite because of the weather,” he said.