Magic Kingdom welcomes dogs and their walkers

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 February, 2012, 12:00am

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With the recent spell of cool weather, it's a good time to take your dog out for a nice, long walk. And if you want some company - that is, more than 1,000 dogs and their owners - the Hill's x SPCA Family Wag 'n' Walk 2012 takes place from 8am today at Hong Kong Disneyland.

Organised by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), the pet walk was previously called Dogathon, inaugurated in 1976.

Over the years, it has been held across the city, from Tai Tam Country Park and Plover Cove Country Park to Happy Valley and Sha Tin.

However, in 2009, the pet walk moved to the land of Mickey Mouse.

'When Disneyland discussed the opportunity, we took it because it was a chance to do the walk at a higher level,' says Michael Wong, deputy director of community development, overseeing fund raising, public relations, membership and education functions at the SPCA.

In the beginning, the walk consisted of 200 to 300 dogs and their owners at the country parks. In recent years, the event has grown to four times that number, with 1,000 dogs on the walk last year, Wong says.

'In terms of appeal [compared to a country park], Disneyland is more interesting, it has the infrastructure, with a more carnival-like atmosphere and activities. And there's Mickey Mouse and Pluto, which adds another dimension to the walk, giving it a magical atmosphere.'

This year, Wong expects about 1,200 dogs and more than 2,000 walkers at the event, which takes over nine months to organise.

'Enrolment has been encouraging and we are getting more people and their dogs to join in.'

Once the walk is completed, each dog will receive a Certificate of Merit, along with souvenirs including Hill's Science Diet trial samples, Kakato Premium pet food, Parsons Music discount coupon, and an SPCA Wag 'n' Walk T-shirt.

The SPCA hopes to raise HK$1 million for this family-friendly event, with proceeds going towards animal adoption, cruelty prevention, education, rescue services and population control.

'The event gives an opportunity for people to exercise their pets and meet other animals and their owners.

'And the fundraising helps us financially, as well as with spreading the message of animal welfare,' Wong explains.

In addition to the 1.5-kilometre walk, the event features a live band on stage and 'a lot of games where people can win prizes', Wong says.

Some games include answering questions about responsible pet ownership. There is also a look-a-like contest where dog owners will be judged on how similar they seem to their dogs.

'When people finish the walk they can socialise with everyone else. We want to make it a fun-filled day with games, activities, music and food - everything you need for a happy carnival,' Wong says.

For snap-happy owners, an area has been set up with different animal and scenery backdrops to capture the moment. Everyone is also encouraged to take photographs on one of three podiums, complete with an oversized medal.

Another highlight is animal-communicator Rosina Arquati, who can 'speak' with your pooch.

If anyone is interested to find out what their dog is thinking or feeling, the animal communicator will be on hand to convey its thoughts.

Wong adds: 'I like that dog owners can play and hang out with their pets and other pet owners, happily participating at this event.'

The walk starts from the Disneyland Resort coach park, along the Park Promenade and the Disneyland fountain.

Then turn right and walk along the Magic Road where you will pass by the Disneyland Hotel and Disney's Hollywood Hotel. Water and first aid is provided along the route.

Today, 8am for registration (8.20am start), HK$380 (with two walkers). Walk-in tickets available. Inquiries: 2232 5536. www.spca.org.hk/petwalk2012.