“This is super, man!” That’s how one walker described it when he and his dog “hit the trail” for the first ever “5K Paw Walk in the Garden” on Saturday, February 23, 2013. For the first time ever, dogs were allowed in the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas. Proceeds of the event will benefit Rancho Coastal Humane Society (RCHS) and San Diego Botanic Garden (SDBG).

“It’s hard to believe that the 5K Paw Walk in the Garden was the first time that these two landmark organizations have ever collaborated in a community event,” says RCHS Community Liaison Nick Winfrey. “Obviously it was a good idea. We’re still counting the spare change, but we’re confident that the event raised more than $7,000.”

Heather Main, Marketing and PR Manager for SDBG, notes that this was the first time that dogs were allowed in the Garden. “Our mission is to inspire people of all ages to connect with plants and nature. Allowing SDBG members and animal lovers to walk their dogs through the Garden  was a great way to remind them what a valuable resource this is. More than 350 people with 300 dogs took part in the 5K Paw Walk. For many of them it was their first time in the Garden.”

The 5 kilometer / 3.1 mile course began in the Hamilton Children’s Garden then wove through bamboo, native plants, and flowering trees. Most participants chose scenery over speed. Winfrey says, “The main goal was for people to take a Saturday morning walk through San Diego’s most beautiful gardens. Not only did we reach that goal, we did it while raising funds that will support the programs that SDBG and RCHS provide for people and animals,”

The “Top Dog” award was presented to the Drake Center for Veterinary Care for having the largest team of walkers.

More information about the 5K Paw Walk in the Garden is available at RCHS at 389 Requeza Street or SDBG at 230 Quail Gardens Drive in Encinitas.