Published on September 22nd, 2022

Here’s a fact that seems made up: Florida has among the best state animal protection laws in America. So says the Animal Legal Defense Fund, a California-based nonprofit highly rated by Charity Navigator. As reported by the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, in 2020, the state achieved a new lifesaving record of nine out of every ten animals taken in throughout the year — an 81% jump from 2019, and an overall 54% increase since shelter data collection began in 2013.

More can always be done. Since 2015 Mick Swigert and friends have worked to improve the lives of South Florida’s four-legged residents through the Bark Back Benefit. The annual festival was created to celebrate the lives of Nesta and Etta, the Swigert family’s beloved canine companions that passed away within a month of each other earlier that year. The festival benefits the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League and the Barky Pines Animal Rescue, both in Palm Beach County.

“At Peggy Adams’, over 34K dogs and cats benefited from services provided last year,” event co-founder Jacqueline Batcha tells PureHoney. “Barky Pines has saved the lives of 890 dogs in Palm Beach. The need for these amazing shelters continues to grow, so our little festival has grown with them.”

A bigger venue this year in Lake Worth’s Bryant Park means an expanded lineup of vendors, artists and food trucks alongside Bark Back’s undeniable star attraction: the First Responders Runway Walk with adoptable dogs. A stellar roster of bands will perform throughout the day. Swigert’s own good time reggae outfit, Spred the Dub, will headline. Other bands include Jupiter legends Boxelder, The Shake, Firewater Tent Revival, and The Copper Tones.

From general admission to limited VIP packages, the seventh annual Bark Back is offering multiple ways to meet and greet adorable, adoptable doggos! “We have a beautiful community of animal lovers here in South Florida that never let us down and we’re looking forward to a gorgeous day,” says Batcha.

Bark Back Benefit VII starts 11:30am Saturday, Oct. 15 at Bryant Park in Lake Worth. ~ Abel Folgar