McALLEN — Dog lovers from far and wide stopped by Fireman’s Park on Saturday for the Palm Valley Animal Society’s inaugural 5K run and doggie dash.

The event hosted about 300 guests who participated in the shelter’s 5K run and doggie dash, which was a mile-long run where owners walked and ran with their dogs and a brunch hosted by the University Draft House.

To enter the 5K and dash, participants paid a fee which raised about $20,000 preliminarily, according to Arlina Larson, events and marketing coordinator for Palm Valley.

Despite the early wake-up call, the energy was high Saturday morning with owners and pets mingling by the starting line before the race.

Dogs from across the Valley participated in the event, such as Kiwi, a Chihuahua who was having a great time interacting with other doggies and her owner Kerstin Ortiz from McAllen, who said she named her dog Kiwi because she was the smallest of the pack when she found her.

Oritiz said she and Kiwi have competed in races before and said, “We’re not first but we’re not last.”

There were dogs of all breeds at the event including Cash, a bull terrier who was driven to the event by the Garcia sisters of Edinburg, Bonnie and Vicky.

Bonnie said she named her Cash because she paid for her in cash when she saw her.

The sisters agreed that it was a great turnout and attributed it to the cabin fever folks were feeling during the pandemic.

Many participants at the event noted the sunny yet cool weather and how it was the perfect day to come outside.

Isabella Guajardo, 7, from Mission and her doggie ‘Chile get ready to take off during the Palm Valley Animal Societys inaugural Give A Bark 5K Walk/Run and Doggie Dash. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

While many of the animals sported their leashes and put paw to pavement, Sylo, a Pomeranian wearing a white knit sweater rode in her stroller for the race and was pushed by owner Suely Sanchez, the general manager of Arri fitness, which was a sponsor for the event.

Sanchez was excited to compete in the doggie dash and push her princess in style.

Among the other ladylike dogs at the event was Jackie O, of Edinburg who was running with Betsy Whitehead of Wyoming, who adopted her from the humane society with her cousin.

Whitehead said she flew in the night before and said this was the first thing on their agenda.

Among the many dogs at the event was a woman fooling many with an electric dog on a leash. Alma Acosta said her doberman was too tired to participate, so she decided to bring Marsha instead.

Keely Lewis, board president for Palm Valley, said it was the first time the shelter hosted the event and was pleased by the turnout, which she announced on the mic right before letting the dash begin with the song “Who Let the Dogs Out.”

“I kind of knew we’d have good attendance and I hope it just gets bigger and bigger every year,” Lewis said.

“What I love about today is that the community feels involved with us, a lot of times, it’s just us at our centers with the animals and a lot of times we don’t feel connected with the community. And I feel like today, having the community actually here in support of us really makes us feel a direct connection to the community,” she said.

Lewis believes the shelters need to get out and into the community to work together to save animals.

The event was part of Palm Valley’s Give a Bark campaign to have the community help save animals that are in need of adoption or fostering.

As previously reported by The Monitor, Palm Valley is at capacity and can always use fosters.

During the event employees from the shelter brought out a few fosters, sporting “adopt me” vests to catch the eye of anyone looking to take a new family member home.

The coordinators of the event were pleased with the turnout and said this event is the first of many with the city.

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View Monitor photojournalist Delcia Lopez’s full photo gallery of the doggie dash event here:

Photo Gallery: Palm Valley holds first doggie dash and 5K fundraiser in McAllen