ORLANDO, Fla. – Hundreds of people and their dogs came out Saturday for the 11th annual Paws for Peace walk to benefit Harbor House of Central Florida’s emergency kennel.
The event took place that morning at Blue Jacket Park in Orlando.
Each step boosted awareness about domestic violence and raised funds for the emergency shelter. Harbor House CEO Michelle Sperzel said the facility is one of only a handful of emergency shelters in the state to have a kennel on its campus.
“It’s a lifesaving program,” Sperzel said. “A lot of times when survivors come in, their animals have already been victims of abuse in the home. So it’s not just them coming in for shelter, it’s also their animals themselves.”
Sperzel said some domestic violence victims will stay with an abuser rather than leave a pet behind. She adds the kennel offers a safe space for all members of the family.
“If you’re out there and you need help and you have animals, there is a solution. We can help you with that. We can safety plan and get you and your animal safe,” she said.
News 6′s Julie Broughton hosted the event with her dog, Jake.
Dogs of all shapes and sizes attended the fundraiser.
The organization raised more than $80,000, which will be used to help pay for expansions at the kennel and its medical fund for pets.
Sonia Ledger and her dog, Rosie, come every year to the event. She said it’s important for families and their furry loved ones to stay safe together.
“They’re family and they have to come with us wherever we go and so we want to make sure they’re safe as well,” Ledger said.
Sperzel said their mission is to help everyone impacted by domestic violence, including their pets. She adds this event is getting results for the emergency shelter.
“We’re getting results by people spreading the awareness about that, that domestic violence impacts an entire family including the pets and we can’t do what we do without the support of the community and the results we get together are lifesaving,” Sperzel said.