Booker D. Surfdog rides a wave at the Cocoa Beach Pier during the inaugural East Coast Dog Surfing Championship last March. / CRAIG RUBADOUX/florida today
COCOA BEACH - Lori Wilson Park will go to the dogs for two days next month during an event where canines can get soaked and find a home.
The Ultimate Water Dog Sports Extravaganza on Nov. 2 and 3 will feature competitions where canines can demonstrate their water skills. As a bonus, residents will get the rare chance to take their dog to the beach.
The organizer has held similar smaller-scale dog events, including ones at the Cocoa Beach Pier, in the past few years and expects a diverse group of spectators to attend next month.
"We've opened a market that goes beyond your typical surf event," said Adam Steinberg, promoter for the Ultimate Water Dog Sports Extravaganza. "This is a family event where they can bring their dog to the beach. This is something that is above and beyond the surf community - this is all about dogs."
City commissioner Adrianne Dillon said the scheduling of the event could be an economic boost during what is typically a slow time for tourism.
"This is a great event for us," Dillon said at a city commission meeting. "It is at the right time of the year."
In addition to allowing leashed dogs in the park and on the beach, the city waived $1,200 in application and permit fees, but still required the event to pay more than $5,000 in fees that include police and rescue personnel that will be present during the event.
SPCA of North Brevard, which operates a no-kill shelter in Titusville, will coordinate dog adoptions with local rescue groups during the two days as well as promote awareness of homeless animals.
"We can sure raise awareness, which is the big thing," said Patrick Fox, executive director of SPCA of North Brevard, which adopts out about 100 animals a month.
"Most 18- to 30-year olds don't have a concept of what happens in animal shelters. They don't realize that thousands of healthy animals in Brevard County are euthanized every year."
Two events, Florida International Dog Surfing Championship and Iron Water Dog Challenge, will pay the winner of each $250. The events are open to the public.
To register, go to fidsc.com.
The Iron Water Dog Challenge will combine surfing, dock-diving and swimming.
Although the focus of the weekend will be on the dog competitions, the promoter hopes the seminars, exhibits and adoptions can focus more attention on homeless animals.
"Without education and information on spay and neutering, the shelters and rescues are filled with animals," Steinberg said. "It just rips your heart out."
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