Lakeland is not only home to a wide range of dog-friendly activities and attractions, but also a number of animal welfare and dog rescue organizations that step in to offer unwanted animals the chance of a brighter future.
SPCA Florida is one of those groups. An independent non-profit, SPCA Florida was founded in 1979 and has its headquarters in Lakeland. It provides care, compassion, and hope to the more than 6,000 homeless animals that come through its doors each year, and provides essential veterinary care to over 50,000 patients each year in its state-of-the-art McClurg Animal Medical Center. With a mission to eliminate animal suffering and to engage the entire community in the welfare and wellbeing of animals, SPCA Florida relies solely on donations from the community.
The Humane Society of Polk County is another non-profit with a long history of helping dogs in the Lakeland region. Chartered in 1972, the group runs a shelter that usually houses 30 dogs and 75 cats, with the shelter open from Tuesday to Saturday. All animals accepted into the shelter are spayed or neutered, given essential medical care, microchipped, and looked after until a loving, responsible owner can be found.
Finally, Heidi’s Legacy Dog Rescue is yet another non-profit that helps dogs in the Lakeland area. Established in 2002, this all-breed rescue is staffed entirely by volunteers and has a simple goal: to save as many animals as possible so that those dogs can enrich the lives of their new adoptive families. Heidi’s Legacy depends on community donations to continue saving lives and is always on the lookout for more animal lovers to become foster carers.
Looking for a fun Friday night with your pooch and the entire family? Look no further than Dog Days Downtown, held in September and sponsored by SPCA of Florida. This paw-some family event takes place at Lakeland’s Munn Park and promises an evening full of dog-friendly entertainment. You and your furry friend can join thousands of other dog lovers and their pets to enjoy live music, a stack of entertaining canine demonstrations, product samples, water play, tasty treats, and so much more! There are plenty of grrr-eat giveaways on offer as well, and all vaccinated, social dogs on a leash are more than welcome.
A car show and craft beer festival that you can enjoy with your dog? Sounds pretty woof-tastic, huh? Hotrods, Hops & Hounds is the paw-fect weekend for anyone who loves dogs, cars or beer — or, better yet, for anyone who loves all three! Held at Mulberry Civic Center, this open car show features hotrods, motorcycles, customs, and classics, with prizes on offer for each category. Attendees can also enjoy craft beer tasting, food trucks, and live entertainment, and well-behaved dogs are welcome to attend. Best of all, proceeds from Hotrods, Hops & Hounds benefit the animals in need at SPCA Florida.
SPCA Florida’s annual Walk for Animals is a highly-anticipated event on the social calendar for Lakeland dog lovers. Held at Lake Mirror in April, this paw-some event raises critical funds for SPCA Florida to care for more than 4,000 dogs and cats each year! You and your furry friend can join hundreds of other animal lovers and their dogs for a peaceful, social stroll, and then enjoy a whole lot of other dog-friendly activities on the day. There’s a Bow Wow Breakfast, heaps of canine demonstrations, pet contests (including a costume contest and musical sit), live music, and a dog agility course. Live music will keep everyone entertained and you can also shop for a host of grrr-eat products from pet vendors, making this an action-packed day for all animal lovers!
Instead of the dog days of summer, why not celebrate our canine companions during winter? At the Dog Day of Winter festival, Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales opens its doors to dog owners and their four-legged friends. Dogs are welcome inside of the Visitor Center, café, patio, and gardens for a day full of dog-friendly fun and games! Some of the activities you can sample include doggy caricatures, doggy contests, canine demonstrations, giveaways, vendors, and heaps of special offers. All leashed, well-behaved dogs are welcome to attend. Best of all, 50% of the proceeds from each dog admission go to the Humane Society of Polk County!
Looking for a wiener-ful opportunity to show your support for Dachshund Adoption Rescue and Education (DARE), a Florida group that rescues and rehomes unwanted Dachshunds? Dox-a-palooza is the event for you! This annual celebration of all things Dachshund brings around 1,000 dog lovers to the Sun-N-Fun Pavilion in Lakeland. There, attendees can enjoy Dachshund races, doggy costume contests, and a whole lot of fun! This family-friendly event is held rain or shine and there are admission fees charged if you want to enter your dog in a contest. It’s a relaxed and wonderfully fun event for any Dachshund enthusiast, so add it to your diary for the year ahead!