Dozens of dogs enjoyed their day in the sun on the grounds of Lakeshore PAWS Animal Rescue’s new site at 4611 Evans Avenue in Valparaiso, Indiana this weekend for a day of fun and pampering. The dogs – many of them PAWS alumni – came in for grooming, doggie baths, brushing, even nail clipping, while their families enjoyed the Puppy Petting Tent, indulged in some ice cream treats courtesy of Culver’s, danced to some tunes spun by a DJ, tried their luck in a raffle and had snacks provided by Lakeshore PAWS Junior Volunteers. There was even a bouncy house, provided by Bounce’N’Around – appropriately themed with the likeness of one of the most-loved canine cartoon heroes of all time, Scooby Doo – for the little dog lovers to play and have fun. Washington Township Fire Department even brought out a fire truck, and let kids take turns sitting behind the wheel.
For those who might not know, Lakeshore PAWS is a volunteer-run, nonprofit animal rescue based in Valparaiso, Indiana, founded in 2011 by Jeanne Sommer, who currently serves as Director for the organization.
“This is our second annual Dog Wash and Open House event, and our first here in our new location,” said Sommer. “We’ve been working to help find good homes for these dogs for over 5 years now, and we have placed over 2,100 dogs with loving families in that time. The dogs come mostly from local shelters; they may be on the list to be euthanized, or they might have some behavioral issues we may need to address. All dogs are kept under watch here for 7 days before they are offered for adoption, to give us time to look for any possible health or behavioral issues that might come up, to be able to offer happy, healthy pets to loving families.”
Sommer says that PAWS is a completely not-for-profit organization, and that they rely solely on donations and fund-raisers to garner the money needed to stay in operation.
“That’s why events like this are so important to us. We really have a wonderful community here. We get so much support from local residents, and we couldn’t do what we do without them,” said Sommer.
Sommer introduced us to Jennifer Weeks and Vicci Somers, volunteers at PAWS, who are responsible for organizing the annual event.
“We came up with the idea to do this last year. Someone said that we could never make money doing it, and our response was ‘watch us,’” said Weeks, with a laugh. “Last year, we held this event at the Century 21 parking lot, but we outgrew that, so this year, we are happy to have this terrific new location, with plenty of room to hold it right here at our shelter.”
Somers says that the event is completely made possible through the kindness and generosity of the volunteers and vendors who gave up their time and effort to come out and help PAWS.
“All the vendors here – from Bounce’N’Around to Culvers to Linda’s Pet Portraits, Indiana Antler Supply and Doggy Bag Company and all the others – they all volunteered their time to come here today, and they are donating a portion of their sales to our organization, to help us not only continue to help homeless pets, but to grow and help more animals in need.”
Somers and Weeks said that the Dog wash is their second biggest fundraising event of the year, right behind their annual Pup Crawl. “Last year, we raised $2,000, and this year we hope to beat that and get to $3,000,” said Weeks.
If you would like to help, Lakeshore PAWS always welcomes volunteers, and are happy to accept donations of dog food, toys, cleaning supplies, paper towels or money.
“We also have a promotion going with Papa John’s pizza. If you order a pizza online from any Papa John’s in northwest Indiana, and enter the promo code ‘lakeshorepaws’ when placing your order, you’ll get 40% off your order, and in addition, Lakeshore PAWS gets 10% of the sale,” said Somers.
Ashlee Flanagan, Chesterton resident and real estate agent was visiting the event with her nephew, Colin Miller.
“Colin is a Junior PAW volunteer here, and we got our little Washington here,” said Flanagan, motioning to the little Chihuahua-mix that nestled in her arms. “We love this place. My niece hopes to open her own animal rescue one day… she started drawing up her business plan, but she’s only 8 right now, so she has a little time before she’s ready to open, I think.”
As the poodles and pugs, pits and retrievers explored the grounds of PAWS’ new location, we caught up one more time with Jeanne Sommer, who had just a few more words of advice.
“We just want to thank this wonderful community,” said Sommer. “And please – I know you’ve heard this before, but please – remember to get your pets spayed or neutered.”
If you would like more information, or to donate or volunteer your time, you can reach Lakeshore PAWS at 219-476-PAWS, or visit them online at http://www.lakeshorepaws.org/.