Valparaiso | With a pink bow around her neck, Wanda worked the room, collecting money for her favorite charity.
Wanda, an English bulldog, represented Chicago English Bulldog Rescue, one of dozens of animal organizations Saturday at the Be Kind to Animals Celebration at the Porter County Expo Center.
The annual event, sponsored by the Porter County Animal Shelter, featured dog and cat adoptions through local rescues and shelters, pet merchandise sales, and information about pet-related services.
Kate Vanderlin, of PCAS, said this year’s celebration welcomed 15 additional vendors and rescues for a total of 50.
“There’s a lot more rescue groups that have popped up in the last few years,” said Vanderlin. “Next year, we will definitely rent two buildings.”
The event coincides with National Be Kind to Animals Week the first week in May, said Vanderlin.
“We want to create an awareness of the roles pet play in our lives,” Vanderlin said.
Cathy Nolan, founder of Giant Paw Prints rescue, said the group finds homes for large breed dogs, like English mastiffs, St. Bernards, and Great Pyrenees, from area “pounds,” including those in LaPorte and Starke counties and in Hammond.
Boomer, a Great Dane and Anatolian shepherd mix rescued by the organization, rolled on his back and accepted belly rubs in front of the rescue’s booth.
“He’s a big goof,” said Nolan.
John Moench and his own large breed dogs – Newfoundlands Wrigley and Bruin – searched for new treats, leashes, and collars.
“There’s a lot of fun stuff here,” said Moench, of Kouts.
P.J. Imm came to the event to find a companion, as her two dogs passed away within the past year.
“A shaggy mix type,” said Imm, describing the dog she had in mind to adopt.
Diane Bannister, a volunteer for the bulldog rescue, said the event is “great exposure” for the rescues.
Wanda, Bannister’s own puppy mill rescue, did her part by collecting more than $25 for the organization greeting people in her donation vest, which has a pocket for dollar bills.
“She hates having it on,” said Bannister, of Gary. “But she takes one for the team almost every day.”