District residents love their dogs.
That was especially clear here Saturday when more than 30 pet owners—young and old alike—showed up at Pither’s Point to raise about $7,500 for the local Friends of Animals during the second-annual “Paws Around the Park.”
“Last year’s event was truly exceptional in terms of funds raised, and we were hoping we could do as well this year,” said organizer Susan Cousineau, who also is a Friends of Animals member.
“Last year, we raised about $6,500 in pledges and with the travel dollars donated back to the organization, that brought us well over $7,000.
“This year, we received about $7,300 in pledges and will expect a final total of about $7,500,” she added.
Cousineau noted a high percentage of the pledges ($2,000) were sent in advance to sponsor Friends’ mascot, “Willow,” which was important in helping the event reach its fundraising goal.
“Although we actually had a few less walkers this year, we suspect that many of these people decided to sponsor ‘Willow’ instead,” she reasoned.
“Willow” led the 30-minute walk with Alissa Sinclair.
Once again, there were prizes not only for the top three adult pledge-getters but also for the top teen (age 13-17) and kids (12 and under).
The grand prize—consisting of $500 in travel dollars from International Travel Services, a $100 gift certificate for designer sunglasses, and a $50 gift certificate for a custom pet portrait at In Focus Photography—went to Tanya Ness, who garnered a whopping $1,005.
Second prize went to Sonnie Martin ($439), who received $300 in travel dollars, a gift certificate to get a pet portrait, a pendant and earring set, and sunglasses.
Pat Cresswell ($220) won the third prize, which included $200 in travel dollars, a pet gift basket, and a certificate for a pet portrait.
The top teen pledge-getter was Jamie Beadow ($150), who received sunglasses and a backpack, while the top kid was Jessica Cousineau ($180), who earned a pizza party courtesy of Pizza Hut.
Many of the dogs taking part in Saturday’s walk were Friends of Animals alumni—dogs adopted from the agency—so their owners had strong feelings about supporting the cause.
“We think it’s a very worthwhile cause,” said Matt Myers, who along with his wife, Carolyn, raised $200 for the fundraiser.
“We adopted our dog, ‘Baxter,’ from Friends of Animals and talk about after-sale service,” Myers added. “They helped us train him, get the shots, and neuter him.
“They [also] called us after we had him a couple of months to see how things were going.”
When the Myers thought Baxter “the Wonderdog” had a problem with aggression, a member of Friends came to their Morand Bay home east of Windy Point and checked him out, he said, adding “But they said, ‘Nah, he’s just rambunctious.’”
Myers said he highly recommends anyone—even people who’ve never owned a dog before—to contact Friends of Animals when looking to get a pet pooch.
“[Baxter] was found in the Morson dump, but here he is today because of Friends of Animals. He’s a great addition to the family,” he said.
“I think it’s an excellent cause,” echoed Lesley Zaparniuk, who also got her dog, “Klooster,” from Friends of Animal. “I think our community could use a real animal shelter.
“I don’t know if people know about the facilities being used by Friends of Animals right now, but they really rely on a lot of foster families,” she noted. “It’s important to have a shelter—I don’t think dogs should be left on the street.”
“We’re doing this to help sponsor Friends of Animals. It’s a good cause, and this is the first time we came out to this. We wanted to see what is was all about,” added Darlene Desjardins, who walked with her son and daughter, Timmy and Simone, as well as their husky “Cassie,” who was adopted from Friends of Animals, too.
For “Cassie,” Saturday’s walk was a reunion of sorts as pups from the same litter got to see each other again. In this case, Dave and Marie Gregory brought her sister, “Brandi,” out for “Paws Around the Park.”
More than a fundraiser, “Paws Around the Park” wasn’t called a canine carnival for nothing, featuring a barbecue and contests like best trick and cutest costume.
“We had ‘super dog’ back again this year, and dogs dressed as a ladybug, tiger, and even Elvis. All four tied for first place and received their special treats as prizes,” said Cousineau.
“It was great to see so many kids come out for the event,” she added. “One family made a special sign for ‘Willow’ to express their love for him and the importance of saving lives.
“It was a heartwarming gesture and sent a very important message to us all that regardless of that amount raised, events such as this teach kids about extending kindness and compassion towards animals—and what could be more important than that,” Cousineau enthused.
For more information about Friends of Animals, call 274-2144.
District residents love their dogs.