Lingering fears about crowds have slowed sign-ups for the Million Paws Walk 2022 events, which will resume in-person this weekend for the first time since the pandemic began.
Since the 2019 event was held, volunteers have participated virtually. With pandemic restrictions now relaxed, Australia’s most well-known animal charity is looking forward to welcoming back people in person and helping participants – with four legs and two – shed those extra COVID kilos.
In Victoria, registrations are currently sitting at less than 50 per cent of the target of 10,000 participants.
RSPCA Victoria’s head of development, John Boyle, says people seem hesitant to register for events ahead of time, following years of COVID-19 interruptions and snap lockdowns.
But with only days to go before the events on Sunday, May 22, he’s imploring people to pre-register to avoid queues.
“It’s a special event that isn’t to be missed,” he says,
“Especially for any dog owners who may have a new COVID companion ready to socialise and meet some new pooch pals!”
New South Wales
Registrations are also lagging in New South Wales. In fact, the branch has announced an exclusive 20 per cent discount for Paws N’ All readers.
“We are hoping to see over 4,000 people and their furry friends in Sydney (Olympic Park) put their paws to a good cause and help raise money for animals in need,” says spokesperson Kieran Watson.
“To help us achieve that, we have created the promo code PAWSNALL20 for your audience to receive a 20 per cent discount on NSW walks via the Million Paws Walk website.”
Meanwhile in South Australia, the plug has been pulled on an in-person event.
RSPCA South Australia’s Gemma Weedall acknowledges that some people will be disappointed. But she says the decision was unavoidable.
“We really rely on this annual campaign to provide a financial boost that gets us through the winter months,” she says.
“Recent years have seen event numbers decline, expenses go up and a lot of uncertainty created by the pandemic.”
Instead, SA RSPCA is encouraging supporters to host their own dog-meet ups, sign-up virtually or get behind abassadog Sophie – the face of the SA Million Paws Walk fundraiser.
When Sophie first arrived at the RSPCA eight weeks ago, she weighted a whopping 53 kilos.
Now the four-year old is down to 45 kilos. However, she’ll need to drop another 20 kiloes before she’s at her ideal weight.
“Sophie has been through a lot in the past few months,” Ms Weedall says.
“And her journey back to fitness and a healthy weight is something we wanted to share with our supporters.”
Anyone interested in sponsoring Sophie can go to her fundraising page.
How to get involved
In-person events are being held in NSW, VIC, TAS, ACT and NT this year. To find a walk near you, go to the Million Paws Walk website.
For those who can’t find a walk nearby, don’t worry. There’s a virtual option where you can sign up to raise funds by simply doing your daily dog walk.
Main image source: @RSPCAMillionPawsWalk/Facebook