Pet Walk promises fun for whole family

Hinsdale Humane Society fundraiser back after COVID-19 forced cancellation in '20

With Illinois fully re-opened, organizer Dee Downs hopes the Hinsdale Humane Society’s annual pet walk Saturday, June 26, will draw a big crowd.

“It was such a huge event years past, and we’d love to see it take off again,” Downs said. “We don’t know what to expect this year because everyone has their own opinion of what the world is today. Hopefully things will go well and everyone is glad to be back. We’ve got a lot of fun stuff planned.”

The event will feature a 1-mile walk, along which kids will be asked to spot certain items to complete a visual scavenger hunt.

“We’ve never done that before. We thought we’d change that up a little bit,” Downs said.

Kids also can compete for prizes in the Superhero Sprint or visit a humane education station staffed by members of the humane society’s junior board and humane education coordinator Lauren Link.

Visitors also will be able to capture the fun on film.

“We’ll have a photo area set up with our superhero theme where kids and family members can get their pictures taken,” Downs said.

Therapaws teams will be on hand to explain their work and answer questions. Food and pet vendors will be on site as well.

“The shelter will be closed for adoptions that day, but we will have staff giving tours of the building for those who are interested,” Downs said. “If they see a cat, dog or any other animal we have up for adoption, then they could certainly come back on Sunday when we are open and adopt somebody.”

Facility tours were not possible in the past when the shelter was located on Elm Street and the Pet Walk was held at KLM Park. Board member Tina Martinez was excited to see it move to the new Tuthill Family Pet Rescue and Resource Center two years ago.

“It was so wonderful seeing us be able to have an event at our location,” Martinez said. “I think that was just amazing to be able to have all of those people, to fit them all, and be proud of the location that we have and show them everything we’re doing for the animals.

“It was really nice to be able to showcase the location and all of the animals that are there waiting for their forever home,” she added.

The money raised from the Pet Walk helps keep the shelter running, paying for everything from dog and cat food to staff salaries to surgeries.

“We truly will take in any animal, not just the cute puppies,” Martinez said. “We will take in those animals that may need an additional level of care that other organizations can’t take in. All that costs money.”

Working on an appointment basis through the pandemic, the shelter was able to find homes for 1,401 animals last year, Downs said.

“Our animal care staff, in my opinion, were heroes,” she said.

The superheroes theme, which always appeals to kids, resonates even more this year following the COVID-19 pandemic, Downs said.

“In view of everything that has happened in the past year, a lot of people have really stepped up and become heroes,” she said.

In addition to raising money to support the shelter, this year’s pet walk is a chance to celebrate a return to normal.

“We’re just really excited to be open to the public again, to have people come through our doors, get these animals into a happy home,” Downs said.

Martinez, who joined the board 3 1/2 years ago at the invitation of her cousin, Dr. Alison Muehrcke, a veterinarian and HHS board member, said the day will be a fun one for people and their furry friends.

“It’s a great family event. I know people are always looking for things to do with their kids outside,” she said. “It’s a great family event for the whole family — kids and pet children, too.”

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean