Bark in the Park
Bonita event welcomes canine companions, proceeds improve lives
Barking and frolicking take over the bank of the Imperial River on Jan. 23, as pet-lovers and their four-legged buddies pair up for contests and other fun at the 6th annual Bark in the Park. Southwest Florida Veterinary Specialists hosts the event at Riverside Park in Bonita Springs. Proceeds benefit Naples Equine Challenge. Bark in the Park is free and runs 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Clinic office manager Jessica Mintz says a new nonprofit is chosen for each Bark in the Park. Naples Equine Challenge is “a wonderful organization which works with special needs and handicapped children and adults by getting them introduced to horses and riding,” she says.
Riverside Park will welcome dogs of all shapes and sizes, sniffing and getting to know one another. Mintz expects close to 600 participants and their pets at this year’s Bark, whose creators reasoned that pets and owners over time become more alike― owners should dress up their pet and wear a matching outfit for the popular look-alike contest. The event is also an opportunity to greet adoptable pets from Southwest Florida rescue groups, watch a pet CPR demonstration, as well as demonstrations by K-9 Search & Rescue and Lee County K-9 units. Besides fun activities, there will be entertainment, food and pet vendors.
Mintz says that idea for the event six years ago came about with the motivation to create something to support the animal community, and where pets and owners can both participate. Naples Equine Challenge improves the lives for those battling both physical and mental challenges, through therapeutic horseback riding and other equine-related programs.
The 6th Annual Bark in the Park will feature adoptable pets (below left) from rescue groups. Dr. Michelle Patrick (at left in photo below right) and her assistants will give CPR demonstrations that help stricken pets.