BRANFORD — Brrrrr. Air temps hovered around a cool 35 degrees and the Long Island Sound temp was at a relatively balmy 50 degrees as 15 brave people donned bathing suits for a quick New Year’s Day dip.

The Plunge for Paws brought out a hardy group of animal lovers to the beach at Owenego Inn, raising funds for the Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter medical fund.

“It was really cold, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be,” said Laura Burban, Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter director.

While money is still coming in, the event is expected to raise upwards of $5,000, specifically earmarked for the shelter’s medical fund.

“It’s a perfect time because we just took in two animals that are going to cost thousands and thousands of dollars,” Burban said, referring to a dog and a cat that are going to extensive medical intervention.

Animal lover Heather Bradley raised about $2,000 in donations. She talked about Burban’s commitment to animals and her own personal love of animals in need as her motivation to take the plunge.

“She (Burban) is just an amazing woman,” Bradley said. “She just is such a huge advocate for so many homeless animals and surrendered animals.

“She is a great part of the community, she does more than just rescue animals,” Bradley adds, “she helps to educate people about why it’s so important to care for homeless animals.”

Bradley’s personal commitment to animals is evident when talking about some 30 animals she has fostered over the past 10 years.

“I told myself I was going to do it for a dog that, sadly, I had fostered and it got hit by car and was killed,” said Bradley. “So that was my motivation to do it, besides doing it for the animal shelter.”

Burban is grateful to all the people who plunged into the chilly water and those who donated to help all the animals in need.

“While I was standing there sort of regretting it, in my swim suit, thinking, ‘I can’t believe I’m doing this,’” said Burban, “I’m also thinking, ‘Oh, thank god we’re doing this.’”

Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter, 749 East Main St., Branford, 203-315-4125; branfordanimalshelter.org; Facebook Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter; Instagram dan_cosgrove_animal_shelter; TikTok @cosgroveshelter

Connecticut Media Group