THE Great North Dog Walk is ready to be let off the leash again – and it’s set to be bigger and better than ever.
Organiser Tony Carlisle has vowed to put the latest instalment of the charity extravaganza into the record books as this year’s event was launched at South Shields Town Hall yesterday.
The 57-year-old cannot wait to lead off the walk at the Leas in South Shields on Sunday, June 8, after a tough few months since he suffered a heart attack last November.
The walk had a record 23,301 four-legged entrants in 2012 and Mr Carlisle has his sights set on attracting even more this summer.
The former Harton Technology College teacher, who founded the Great North Dog Walk in 1990, said: “This is the biggest launch we have had and I want this year’s walk to be bigger and better than ever.
“I am having interest in the walk from all over the country and I want to break the record for entries again this year.
“I want people to know that the rules have changed. Each person can bring as many dogs as they like to the walk. You can also sign up on the day. It is a great family day and is lots of fun.
“We have two Great North events to be proud of in South Tyneside – the Great North Run and the Great North Dog Walk.
“We have got more beneficaries than ever before, with 16 dog charities and three human charities.”
Mr Carlisle is staying positive as he awaits more heart surgery at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle next month.
He added: “I will be going into hospital in April and I am waiting for an exact date as they need to set aside a lot of time for the operation. It will take more than eight hours.
“I always stay positive as there are always people in a worse condition than yourself.
“The support I have had has been fantastic.”
The Great North Dog Walk has raised more than £4.7m for good causes and charities benefitting from the event this year include Help for Heroes, Heel and Toe Children’s Charity, St Oswald’s Hospice, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Dogs for the Disabled, Pets as Therapy and the RSPCA.