BRADENTON -- America's favorite pastime was also enjoyed by many fans' four-legged friends Saturday at McKechnie's Bark at the Park Adoption Night.
Dozens of dogs were among the crowd of 1,082 at the Bradenton Marauders game with their owners at McKechnie Field as part of the adoption event.
Cavachons Missy and Minnie were all dolled up with bows for their first trip to a ballgame, which Bradenton won 7-4 over the Brevard County Manatees.
"They've been to rowing events at Benderson Park," said owner David Heagerty.
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After learning of the event through K9 Coach in Sarasota where the dogs train, he and his wife, Cathy Heagerty, decided to bring them to the game. Five-year-old Missy is much more used to socializing than 6-month-old Minnie.
"She's a therapy dog at Tidewell Hospice," said David Heagerty. "She has eight clients, most whom have Alzheimer's disease, and they love her because she doesn't ask them any questions."
Officials with the Humane Society of Manatee County, Bishop Animal Shelter and Moonracer No Kill Animal Rescue all came to McKechnie Field with dogs available for adoption.
Midway through the game, Humane Society adoption counselor and volunteer coordinator Brenna Beightol said there had been no adoptions yet. She said she was optimistic, however, with many people visiting the dogs and expressing interest.
"It's a big commitment," Beightol said. "We don't ever want to push an adoption because we know what a huge commitment it is."
They don't necessarily expect to get any adoptions immediately, she said. But after events such as Bark at the Park, people often come back to adopt an animal.
"We do help by taking them out of the shelter. It helps for them to be seen in a different environment," Beightol said. "That's why this is so important for
During the fourth inning, all dogs available for adoption, including seven from the Humane Society, strutted their furry cuteness through the stadium breezeway.
Bark at the Park, held once a month throughout the summer, is always an exciting event, said General Manger Rachelle Madrigal. The event usually draws about 30 dogs, she said, and sometimes as many as 50.
Water stations are set up throughout the stadium and kiddie pool is filled to cool off the doggies.
For those who prefer it, two sections are designated dog-free.
Buddy and Bear were sitting happily alongside owners Tim and Melanie Dale while they watched the game. It was the first trip to the ballpark for the two male 6-month-old yellow Labradors.
"It's our first social event," Melanie Dale said.
The couple also learned of the event from their dog trainer at K9 Coach.
"We thought it was a good chance to get them around people and see how they do," Tim Dale said.
They were happily surprised.
"We'd thought we might have to leave after the first inning or two but they've been great," she said as the fourth inning was underway.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.