Purser Family Park in Harker Heights was filled with dogs and their proud owners Saturday, during the second annual Paws in the Park event.
Although dogs ruled the day, families without dogs also came out to watch the contests, games, demonstrations and activities.
Other attendees were dog-lovers looking for pet services and products from one of the 11 vendors.
“We want to provide an event where the community can get involved and bring their furry friends, plus it is for a good cause,” said Nichole Broemer, City of Harker Heights recreation and events coordinator. People had the opportunity to donate to the Harker Heights Pet Adoption Center.
Several of the vendors were rescue organizations raising money with raffles or other contests.
“We’re helping to educate people about what is out there,” Broemer said.
Lou Aycock of Harker Heights brings her big, shaggy dog, Duke, to any dog-related event she can find.
“It’s really cool, and Duke really likes these kinds of events,” Aycock said. “I’ll remember how friendly and informative everyone has been, and it’s neat to see people out with their dogs.”
Three rescue organizations brought dogs ready for new homes.
PAWS Humane Society in Killeen, a foster-based rescue organization, brought ten dogs to be adopted.
“Our goal is to find them a forever home,” said Christine Tretta, a frequent volunteer with PAWS. “It would be wonderful to get them all adopted today because then we could go get more from the shelter, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen.”
Tretta urged people to save pets from shelters or rescue organizations rather than buying from a breeder.
“It helps the community, and the animals are already vetted, vaccinated and microchipped,” she said. “Animals are family members, for forever.”
Another organization with three dogs to adopt was the Texas Humane Heroes, a nonprofit no-kill rescue organization.
“We’re trying to end animal homelessness, so come adopt,” said Peyton Garza, a staff member. “We’re hoping to get all these dogs adopted today, and we’ve been pretty successful with offsite adoptions.”
Many people came to see the contests.
One of the events people gravitated toward was the dog and owner look-a-like contest.
“That one is really fun to watch,” Broemer said. “I remember last year one owner with salt and pepper hair while their dog was black and white.”
Other dogs competed in contests for agility, best-dressed and best dog trick, among others.
Broemer said that in addition to helping dogs get adopted, the event gets the word out about the dog park that is part of Purser Family Park.
“We want people to come out and see it,” she said. “We’re proud of our dog park and we want to show it off.”
Last year around 300 people attended the event, and organizers expect about the same number this year.
The event evolved out of Puppypalooza, which the city held every September for seven years.
“It was hot for visitors, vendors and dogs, even at 8 a.m.,” Broemer said.
City leaders reviewed feedback and decided instead to have two dog events: Paws in the Park in the spring and the Pooch Pool PAW-TY in the late summer.
Purser Family Park and dog park is located at 100 W. Mountain Lion Road, Harker Heights.