Official Student Media of Valencia College

Valencia Voice

Official Student Media of Valencia College

Valencia Voice

Official Student Media of Valencia College

Valencia Voice

‘Pup, Pup and Away’ As Daring Dogs Take To The Air At Annual Fundraiser on February 10

Pet Alliance Raises $200,000 At ‘Paws In the Park’

On February 10, Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando raised $202,594 during the 30th annual “Paws In the Park” at Downtown Orlando’s Lake Eola. Valencia College students arrived in packs with their furry canine pals to participate in a number of the pet-friendly activities. Dock diving, owner look-like contests, play spaces, vendors, music, food trucks, and animal services were just some of the memorable experiences. The event was presented by MetLife Pet Insurance.

Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando Director of Operations Kathy Burns excitedly shared their fundraising goal had already been met. Burns explained, “We raised $178,000 before we started our day… We’ve met our fundraising goal before we opened our doors. We love the support of the community.” In 2022, Pet Alliance reported aiding over 4,500 dogs and cats through their programs. In November 2023, Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando achieved 15,000 spayed and neutered feral cats since starting in 2018. The group holds a 98% Four-Star rating on 

Dog training company Beyond the Leash sponsored the dock diving with a large structure erected to allow pups to launch after toys into a measured pool.  Kate Vaughan, Beyond The Leash’s Office Manager, explained the collaborative effort in setting up for the event. 

An enthusiastic dog dives for a toy in the Beyond the Leash’s mobile dock on Saturday, February 10. (Jeremy Gottschalk)

“(It takes) lots of manpower, many hours this year. We actually had five or six men that were able to volunteer their time to set it up. So we got the dock up in record time, which was, I’d say, like 45 minutes to an hour,” says Vaughan. “It typically takes two hours because the dock is literally rolled up into the storage system. So we have to unroll it, put all the pieces together so the City of Orlando will come fill with the help of our firefighters.”

Outside of being dog lifeguards and judges, Beyond the Leash has a team of about nine trainers which Vaughan explains, “They are wonderful; they help us with our group classes, our day camp trainings.”

Many local families said they attend the event each year with a few members enjoying their first time.

Valencia College Nursing student Nay Perez, 24, brought pets Mr. Grey and Moana, a Manchester Terrier and Havanese respectively.  When asked about the event, Nay says, “I love it. I come here every year. I know you can do competitions and wanted to do the dog lookalike.”  

Valencia College freshman Jackson Crownover, left, with father Chandler, right. Golden retriever mother, Bonnie, bottom left, and daughter Pupa, bottom right. (Jeremy Gottschalk)

College freshman Jackson Crownover, 18, AA General Studies, took a break from school work to attend with father Chandler. They were accompanied by two Golden Retrievers, mother-daughter pair Bonnie and Pupa. This was Pupa’s first time and the family considered it a type of “immersion therapy” being around other friendly dogs. 

Local animal adoption groups also attended the event. The community had opportunities to meet some of the canines with meet-n-greet settings. One fundraiser included a “Kissing Booth” with a lovable black and white puppy. Love was in the air for many who sported Valentine’s apparel but also saw fit to expand their pack.

Valencia College 2018 alum “Michelle B.”, wishing to remain somewhat anonymous due to the sensitive nature of adoption, helped her family adopt a puppy from the event. “It was really good, and these guys are really good with the adoption process. I appreciate that. It’s good for people who own dogs and looking to own one.” 

Whether performing aerial acrobatics or indulging in whipped foam pup cups, “Paws In the Park” certainly had something for everyone. If you enjoy happy smiling faces accompanying wags and butt wiggles, this annual event is certainly a must.

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About the Contributor
Jeremy Gottschalk, Editor-In-Chief
Jeremy Gottschalk is pursuing The Digital Media Communications Associate in Science (A.S.) degree at Valencia College in preparation for higher education in both journalism and cyber security. Gottschalk is a former college newspaper Editor-in-Chief for University of the Pacific’s "The Pacifican". Gottschalk is a former National Security Agency cryptologic technician and cyber analyst. He is also an 11-year Navy veteran who has traveled to over 30 countries. While not in school, Jeremy volunteers at community events, completes DuoLingo courses in Spanish and German, and enjoys nature activities such as hiking.

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