VALPARAISO — It was the dogs' day out Saturday in downtown Valparaiso, filling Central Park Plaza with wagging tails, loud barks and tongues lolling about.
Lakeshore PAWS hosted its seventh annual Pup Crawl Saturday. The nonprofit animal rescue is located in Valparaiso and is mostly run by volunteers.
"It's just like a big party in the park," co-founder Molly Judd said.
Judd, who established the organization with Jeanne Sommer in 2011, said the main goal of the party is to raise community awareness about Lakeshore PAWS and "homeless dogs in the community."
"It raises much needed funds to keep us going," Judd said.
The event was free to community and had musical entertainment by the The Crawpuppies and Ryan Staniszeski. Local food trucks lined Lafayette Street and booths were staggered around the inside of the ice rink with art of animals and dog apparel.
Entertainment for children and a dog walk provided for a lively and breezy night. Hundreds of people came in and out of the event, which brought in hundreds of dogs of all sizes from chihuahuas to Great Danes.
One spectator shouted, "Oh my god, look at that little poofer!"
All donations go towards the purchase of food, medical care and "really anything, when they're in our care, we need to take care of them," Judd said. With the help of donors, Lakeshore PAWS's mission is to find loving homes for abandoned pets in Northwest Indiana.
"This is how ... we survive and how we're able to save so many dogs," Sommer said at the beginning of the event. "Last year we were able to save 800 lives, and we found them homes."
The organization has about 30 dogs right now and brought animals to the event for potential adoptions. Judd said people can also stop by on the Monday or Tuesday following the event to adopt dogs they met.
"We're just really excited you're here," Sommer said. "We're so grateful for every single one of you who came out here today."