THE COVID-19 crisis may mean that large gatherings are a thing of the past, for now, but that hasn't stopped the RSCPA finding a creative way to host its Million Paws Walk event to fight animal cruelty.
The RSPCA has adapted their much-loved national dog walking event by launching Million Paws Walk: Walk This May.
Instead of dogs and owners joining organised public walking events across the country on May 17, the new event will see dog owners hit the pavement in their own neighbourhoods and backyards, and responsibly walk to fight animal cruelty during the month of May.
Million Paws Walk: Walk This May will celebrate a mutual love of animals while keeping walkers safe and healthy. Participants are encouraged to don their activewear to walk their four-legged friends in the safety of their own streets and backyards, for the purpose of helping the RSPCA continue to do their vital work in animal welfare.
"The coming months are likely to require significant changes to our usual behaviours as we respond to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, and that includes how we exercise and entertain our pets," RSPCA Australia CEO Richard Mussell said.
"While social distancing and self-isolation are increasingly recommended, we still need to keep our pets - and ourselves - exercised and entertained.
"This may mean walking in public while maintaining safe distances and good hygiene, for as long as we can. In the coming weeks and months, it might also mean finding new and innovative ways to enrich the home environment, to keep your pet healthy and happy.
"At the same time, there are still animals in the RSPCA's care, there are still inspectors on the roads, and we depend on the funds raised by events such as the Million Paws Walk to continue these essential services - so along with many other organisations and charities, we're facing some very tough months ahead.
"To that end, I'd urge everyone in the community to keep supporting the RSPCA in any way that you can, and to make the best of this difficult time with the companionship of your much-loved pets," Mr Mussell said.
Participants are still encouraged to fundraise in the lead up to the event with money raised from online fundraising and merchandise sales used to support RSPCA's work within the community, including caring for more than 124,000 animals that come through its shelters each year.
The day will be tied together using the hashtag #MillionPawsWalk and #MPWDOGSQUAD so all walkers can connect and share photos of their dogs and walk routes on social media.
Those who have already purchased tickets are encouraged to have their ticket cost transferred to a tax-deductable donation, however for those requesting a refund can contact RSPCA directly to arrange this.
Individuals can go online to keep up-to-date with the latest information, sign-up for Million Paws Walk: Walk This May, purchase merchandise and start fundraising today.
Details on the website at www.millionpawswalk.com.au.