ALL canines great and small went walkies at the weekend to help raise thousands of pounds for charity.

Hundreds of four legged fundraisers, from dobermans to dachshunds, poodles to pugs, and their owners, turned out for the third annual St Teresa’s Hospice Bark in The Park event.

A record 546 dogs took part in the one mile sponsored walk around South Park, Darlington, helping to raise over £10,000 for the Darlington, South Durham and North Yorkshire charity.

St Teresa’s Hospice community fundraising manager Scott Marshall said: “I am absolutely speechless. The number of dogs and their owners here today has exceeded all of our expectations.

“People have travelled from all over the North East just to be with us and the support has been amazing. This is our third year and the event just keeps on getting bigger and bigger.”

The walk, sponsored by Jollyes Pet Superstore and supported by Stanhope Park Veterinary Surgery and Harringtons, was officially started by Darlington Mayor Coun Jan Taylor.

Prizes for best dressed dogs and dog with the waggiest tail were won by dalmatians Lexi and Arion with their owners Zara, Loraine and Darren Knott, of Darlington, and three-year-old cockerpoo Alfie with owner Don Cobb.

Additional trophies and rosettes were presented for best young dog handler, best puppy and best dog by hospice supporter Pat Hogg.

Winner of best handler was Tyler Head, seven, of Newton Aycliffe with his shitzu Claude. Border collie Myst and owner Denise Moss took the prize for best dog and six month old St Bernard mastiff cross Brenda, with handlers Miv and Josephine Eyres, picked up the best puppy award.

Don, of Darlington, said: “I signed him up for the walk and he’s had a great time with all the other dogs. He’s always such a happy dog so it was great to win the waggiest tail award.”

Stalls including Barking Mad, The Edward Foundation, Throw a Dog a Bone, Oscar Pet Nutrition, Jen Mitchell Photography, Cathy’s K-9 Cuts and Trophy Pet Foods, pitched up to support the event with St Teresa’s Hospice volunteers running a prize filled tombola.

Goody bags containing dog treats were also provided for all dogs completing the walk by staff from Jollyes Pet Superstore.

“This is the first year that we have sponsored Bark in the Park and it has been a fantastic event,” said Jollyes supervisor Rachel McGargle.

Chief executive of St Teresa’s Hospice Jane Bradshaw, who walked with her Bedlington terrier Barney, added: “The overwhelming support has been incredible. Even the sun came out to support us.

“This is fast becoming one of our most popular events and will hopefully continue to grow bigger and better each year.”

For more information on St Teresa’s Hospice visit www.darlingtonhospice.org.uk.