More than 80 walkers, some half-naked or in costume, took to the streets of Tamaqua Saturday morning in protest of weather-related cruelty to animals during the Tamaqua YMCA's first annual Winter Walk For Animals. Gaining high attention, walkers danced, made animal noises and constantly yelled "bring animals inside" to passing motorists and onlookers.

"The walk was a great success," stressed Tamaqua YMCA board member and walk organizer Andrew Leibenguth, who dressed as a puppy dog while using a public address system to keep walkers motivitated as they walked. "We held the walk not as a fundraiser, but only to stress the importance of bringing your pets inside during bad weather, no matter what season," said Leibenguth.

The walk started at the Tamaqua YMCA, located in the old Jamesway Plaza, and ended at the Tamaqua Area Adult Day Care Center at the west end of town.

"The temperature made for a comfortable walk," said Leibenguth. "Although I was hoping for much colder temperatures, as we are suffering so they (pets) don't have to."

After the walk, participants were given shuttle rides back to the YMCA via the Tamaqua YMCA bus.

"I was expecting only about 20 walkers," said Leibenguth. "Boy was I surprised when all these people showed up."

"We (Tamaqua YMCA) really appreciate all the pet and animal organization that showed up for our walk," said Leibenguth. Some organizations represented during the walk were Tamaqua Area Animal Rescue, Carbon County Animal Shelter, Hillside SPCA, Carbon County SPCA, AWSOM of Stroudsburg, Allentown SPCA and others.

Leibenguth stressed the YMCA's appreciation to the Tamaqua Borough, Tamaqua Fire Police, Tamaqua Fire Department, Tamaqua Rescue Squad, Tamaqua Area Adult Day Care Center and Tamaqua Ambulance who also provided support during the event.

For more information about next year's event, call Leibenguth at (570) 668-1234, visit the event on Facebook or go to www.WinterWalkForAnimals.com

"This walk was the best event for animals this area has ever seen," said walker Cathy Miorelli of Tamaqua.