Australia’s biggest dog market event, Paws at the Park, returns to the Mudgeeraba Showgrounds this Saturday to celebrate Animal Welfare League Queensland’s (AWLQ) 60th birthday and showcase the best of Brisbane and Gold Coast’s dog products and services.
The “paw-some” free event boasts more than 100 animal-themed stalls, plus food trucks, off-lead areas, competitions, talks, activities and live demonstrations.
Paws at the Park co-creators Jenna Schroeder and Lia Ferguson said the uniqueness of the event was what attracted so many people to attend.
“It’s the best doggie day out on the Gold Coast,” Ms Schroeder said.
“We had 500 people attend our first event in 2016, with that number growing to over 10,000 attendees this time last year,” she said.
“Being outside and having designated off-leash areas gives Paws at the Park a totally different vibe to other expos and dog events that have cropped up since we started.
“We are so happy that a small event we held with no experience doing anything like it in 2016 has become what it is.”
Ms Schroeder said Paws at the Park was a great way to raise vital funds for their charity partner, AWLQ.
“We have raised over $20,000 for Animal Welfare League Queensland since 2016,” Ms Schroeder said.
“This is through taking parking donations, running activities and holding raffles,” she said.
“The costs to run a shelter are huge and it takes a huge team of people.
“We absolutely love the work of AWLQ.”
Hot Tropical Yoga studio director Michelle Baldwin said she was looking forward running a doga (doggie yoga) class at Paws at the Park.
“We start with a doggy meditation,” Ms Baldwin said.
“We then move on to a mix of yoga poses to benefit the dogs and humans, some tricks and treats, and finish with a doggy massage and relaxation,” she said.
“By the end, all the dogs are calm and happy, and everyone leaves with a smile on their face.”
Ms Baldwin said doga could be beneficial for dogs.
“Doga is a different form of exercise and a change from your typical walk,” Ms Baldwin said.
“It’s also good for dogs with arthritis or injuries,” she said.
“We have poses to cater for all size dogs and have dogs from Chihuahuas to Great Danes join in.”
Ms Baldwin encouraged dog owners to give doga a try and said the money raised from the class was going to AWLQ.
“A few years ago, I checked out a number of shelters and decided after visiting Animal Welfare League Queensland that their great work and effort was where we wanted to donate our doga money to,” Ms Baldwin said.
“We are teaching from 9:15 to 9:45am on the stage at Paws at the Park,” she said.
“Dogs need to be kept on leads and we recommend bringing along a yoga mat, towel, water and dry treats.”
Animal Welfare League Queensland’s fundraising manager Bec Byrnes said this year’s Paws at the Park was extra special because AWLQ was celebrating its 60th birthday.
“We have a limited-edition vintage t-shirt we’ll be selling exclusively at the event,” Ms Byrnes said.
“We’ll also have things like donation tins and plenty of raffles on site,” she said.
Ms Byrnes said AWLQ relied on fundraising from events such as Paws at the Park to continue their welfare work.
“Each year we have about 10,000 companion animals come into our care and the general rehoming process costs around $660 per animal,” Ms Byrnes said.
“We desex them if they haven’t been already and provide any urgent medical treatment that may be required,” she said.
“We also worm them, vaccinate them and provide comfort, which includes warmth, food, bedding and a safe place to sleep.”
Ms Byrnes said while it might cost a lot to care for and rehome these animals, AWLQ stood by their promise of never euthanising a healthy, sociable or treatable animal.
“Over 190,000 animals are euthanised across Australia per year,” Ms Byrnes said.
“Our key focus is to rehome these stray and stranded animals,” she said.
Ms Byrnes said she was looking forward to seeing dogs strut their stuff during the Adoption Parade.
“We have four very lovable dogs in the parade who have been in our care for quite a while and need homes fairly urgently,” Ms Byrnes said.
“Hopefully the four of them will find their forever homes.”
Two of AWLQ’s parade candidates are Manny, a seven-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and Leonard, a two-year-old Bull Arab cross Irish Wolfhound.
Manny is described by AWLQ as being a big bundle of love that would make an excellent family dog.
Leonard is described by AWLQ as a gentle giant with a heart of gold.
Both dogs, along with other companion animals, are available for adoption by visiting Animal Welfare League Queensland’s website at www.awlqld.com.au.
Paws at the Park will be held on Saturday August 24 at the Mudgeeraba Showgrounds from 9am to 2pm.
Entry is free.