Families gathered Sunday afternoon to celebrate the wildlife of Northwest Indiana at Sunset Hill County Park in Valparaiso.
Hosted by Porter County Wildlife Advisory Board and featuring Moraine Ridge Rehabilitation Center and McAfee Animal Hospital, this was the 11th successful year for the day-long event, which was once hosted by the Zona Wildlife Sanctuary.
“We want people to realize that every donation from all of our vendors and any of the families that come out, goes straight to the wildlife in Porter County,” said Dr. Larry McAfee, organizer of the event. “We want people to appreciate the wildlife here and learn how to coexist in our urban community.”
Vendors included the Porter County Animal Shelter, Best Buddies Pet Pantry, a non-profit dog food pantry which exists for families in need and Incredible Bat Inc. They all came out to provide resources for the pets and their families.
The 35 vendors were joined by acrobatic dogs who caught frisbees and a Silly Safari presentation that featured an armadillo, legless lizard and 30-pound boa constrictor.
Veterinarian Dr. Danielle Walker, a Porter County Wildlife Advisory board member, presented on how to give an animal CPR.
“One of our biggest goals is educating the community on responsible ways to interact with wildlife,” Walker said. “We do a lot of that through (the) Moraine Ridge Rehab Center.”
An emotional Bob Greg, president of the Porter County Wildlife Advisory Board, presented awards to two dogs for acts of heroism.
Angel, a dog at an East Chicago convent, helps children come out of their shell and socialize with others. A beautiful black lab was also recognized for saving the life of his diabetic owner numerous times when his sugar levels unknowingly dropped.
“Each year we create a following and each year it just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” said Greg. “I just want to thank everyone for coming out and for participating with us.”