By Larry Perl, Baltimore Sun Media Group
7:45 PM EDT, April 21, 2013
Humans had their hands full at Sunday's 18th annual March for the Animals in Druid Hill Park.
Adam Mittadam, 30, of Canton, held fast to the leashes of six French bulldogs — Mango, Kiwi, Coconut, Scooter, Vespa and Moped — all wearing colorful capes for the occasion on a nippy spring morning.
"Oh my God, they're the cutest things," said Catherine Roberts, 27, also of Canton, stopping to take a photo with her cell phone.
Mercy Hospital anesthesiologist Katie Amundson of Annapolis, who weighs 103 pounds, held on for dear life to her Newfoundlands — Simon, 125 pounds, and Maggie, 100 pounds.
March for the Animals, whose co-sponsors include the Baltimore Ravens, draws 4,000 to 5,000 pet owners to the park each year, and typically raises $350,000 through pledges and donations for the Hampden-based Maryland SPCA, according to Eric DeCosta, assistant general manager of the Ravens, and Barb Clapp, chairwoman of the event.
"Eric and I would like to get over $400,000 this year," Clapp said.
Money raised defrays the costs of spaying, neutering, medicine, sheltering and other SPCA services for 3,000 clients a year. Clapp said the SPCA, a "no-kill" shelter, gets no state or federal funding and faces average costs of $300 for each animal they shelter each year.
"This is our main source of funds," she said of the walk. "It's essential to saving dogs and cats."
The walk was an informal, 1.4-mile jaunt around Druid Hill Park Lake. Food trucks and tents offering everything from microchipping to pet portraits were set up around the lake. Many pets were dressed for a best dressed pet contest. Other contests included one for best pet tricks and another for "Musical Sit," a variation on "Musical Chairs."
No one was enjoying themselves more than Karen Chenowith, 46, of Parkville, owner of Darwin, a 22-year-old giant tortoise wearing a Ravens shirt and a flower on its head. Chenowith, a dog groomer, said Darwin looked like an overgrown box turtle when she bought him and nobody knew what he was.
"I learned the hard way," she said.
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