The DukeFest team has been working like dogs to prepare for its sixth annual and, sadly, its final benefit dog walk event Saturday. Saturday’s event, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Bandstand Park in downtown Franklin, will feature many “pawsome” activities as well as several “Dogs with Jobs” guests. Admission to the celebration is free.
There will be music, bobbin’ for dogs, food, more than 100 raffle baskets, craft and educational vendors, rock painting, paw print painting and the fun PawPort Game with prizes. A very special “Crossing the Rainbow Bridge” memorial activity will be presented by Tammy Bell.
Fifty DukeFest 2017 Rocks have been placed in the local communities and may be brought to the kids’ tent activity area to claim a prize. Rock painting will be one of the activities going on at the tent.
The Mega-Raffle activity is the main fundraiser at this event for the rescue groups. Tickets will go on sale from noon to 3 p.m. with winners drawn starting at 3:15 p.m.
The Blessing of the Animals will be held at noon followed by the muttrimony celebration at 1 p.m. Both ceremonies will be officiated by the Rev. Diane Whitman of Cooperstown.
Participants in the muttrimony ceremony are: Bert and Miss Muffet, Max and Wilma — both couples with their best man, Calvin of Safehaven; Emma and Koda; Brandy and Drango with ring bearer, Bailey; Moose and Libby and two adorable goats.
The celebration cake is being made by Michelle Wright of Canine Confections in Grove City and the muttrimony décor is under the creative hands of Alice Kleck of A & K Hair Salon in Franklin.
Bailey, Brandy and Drango are the furkids of Mieke and Brian Heffern. Emma and Koda are the furkids of Pam Bottomley. Calvin is the ring bearer and is Teri Walter’s spokesdog for Safehaven Small Breed Rescue. Max and Wilma are Judy Tarr’s kids.
Libby and Moose have not met yet — “so this is totally an arranged marriage,” DukeFest organizers said. Libby is April Rowland’s gal and Moose is Michelle Wright’s guy.
The event’s “Dogs with Jobs” guests this year are Duke, who, with his human partner, Matt Pi, is a member of Rescue Road Warriors; K-9 Baxter, the Venango County Sheriff’s department’s K-9 in search and rescue/fugitive apprehension with his handler, Deputy Ryan Williams, and K-9 Patty, the arson dog and her handler Dave Seidl with local State Farm Insurance agent Michael Dill.
DukeFest began in the spring of 2012 when animal advocate friends got together and decided to celebrate rescue groups and assist them with their projects and get the word out about the importance of adoption and the horrors of abuse.
Duker Man Dog had recently been rescued from an abandoned home where he survived without food, water or heat for at least five weeks, so the event got a name. Duke passed away Dec. 31, 2015.
DukeFest enables rescue and response groups to come together as a group to have a day of fun to let the local communities know what they do.
The groups follow the three P’s of rescue:
Prevention — awareness of health risks that challenge pets and the local SNYP clinic for low cost spay-neuter opportunities.
Programs — dog training facilities, service dog groups, fun exercise and agility training and help with lost or found animal situations.
Placement — the hope of all rescue and foster home teams is to have an animal placed in a home where they can freely show and receive love.
Many local individuals, businesses and clubs have donated to DukeFest and their extension of love and generosity is greatly appreciated as they are an all volunteer group and 100 percent of the funds received by DukeFest go directly to the rescue and response groups, organizers said.
The groups benefiting from DukeFest this year are: Hog Heaven Farm Animal Rescue, Precious Paws Animal Rescue, Safehaven Small Breed Rescue, Forest/Venango County Animal Response Team, Club Pet Adoption and the Venango County Humane Society.
“We are sincerely honored to have been a part of bringing awareness of animal rescue and adoption to our community for the last six years,” the DukeFest team said in a press release.
DukeFest will have raised more than $45,000 to assist the local animal rescue and response groups with their projects.
Even though this is the last year for a DukeFest day event, the DukeFest team will continue assisting all groups with special projects and events, such as Relay Recess, Franklin Pet Show, Oil City Pet Show, Franklin Penny Carnival, Club Pet online auctions, Venango County Humane Society online auctions, Precious Paws craft shows, bake sales, aluminum can recycling and the ABATE/DukeFest event in April.
More about arson dog K-9 Patty
Franklin area State Farm agent, Michael Dill, was instrumental in bringing K-9 Patty and her handler Dave Seidl to DukeFest 2017.
Patty and Siedl are part of State Farm’s arson dog program. Patty, Seidl and Dill will be sharing arson and fire prevention information and providing an accelerant demonstration.
Seidl is a fire fighter for the City of Beaver Falls Fire Department. In 2015, he became a certified arson K-9 handler for the City of Beaver Falls when he was partnered with K-9 Patty during a four-week class in Alfred, Maine, sponsored by State Farm. Each dog works and lives with their handler, a law enforcement officer or firefighter trained to investigate fire scenes. The canine and handler are required to complete 200 hours of training.
“Accelerant detection canines are trained to sniff out minute traces of accelerants like gasoline or lighter fluid that may have been used to start a fire,” said State Farm agent Michael Dill. “This program has a direct impact on deterring arson-related crimes.”
Since 1993, the State Farm Arson Dog Program has put more than 380 dogs and their partners to work in 45 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces.
The program was established with the Maine State Police under the guidelines of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. The Maine State Criminal Justice Academy is renowned for its training of canines and its national reputation in law enforcement investigation.
Two decades later, all teams in the State Farm Arson Dog Program are still trained and certified according to Maine State Criminal Justice Academy standards.
For more information, visit arsondog.org.
About the rescues
Here are the non-profit groups that DukeFest raises money for:
Hog Heaven Farm Animal Rescue
Located near Cochranton, Hog Heaven Farm Animal Rescue is a dream come true for David Allman and Regina Martin, retired Pittsburgh police officers.
They started Hog Heaven in June 2000. The first rescues were a miniature donkey and a nubbin goat. Since then they have taken, rehabilitated and re-homed 798 animals including goats, sheep, horses, donkeys, mules and pot belly pigs. Unfortunately, most of the potbellies end up living their lives out at the farm.
Martin and Allman are the main members of the Crawford County Animal Response Team and are also the large animal resource for the Forest/Venango County CART. They also assist other counties as needed during their call-outs for emergencies.
In 2008, Hog Heaven partnered with the Vet Tech Institute in Pittsburgh as their large animal practicum. They had 12 to 14 students every week for seven months. The students learned how to handle and how to do procedures on the large animals. The veterinary instructor, Dr. Moore, also incorporated male cat neutering in the weekly classes. Sadly that program ended in 2013, when VMA decided that vet techs only need 18 hours, not 45 hours of large animal handling. The school paid Hog Heaven per student, so losing the opportunity to enjoy the students, Hog Heaven also lost income which put a financial burden on the farm, the rescue farm said.
Hog Heaven has always been open to the wrap around programs that have counselors and often the clients come out to help and have fun with the animals. Many times it was just that special touch of animal love that was needed for the client, the rescue said.
In 2010, many programs lost their funding so there are not as many clients that are able to participate as before. Hog Heaven is always open to the public and welcomes correspondence to set up a visit.
In 2011, Hog Heaven partnered with Animal Friends of Pittsburgh for the mobile unit to come to the farm so they could offer low-cost spay and neuter of cats for the community. Originally, there were four to five clinics per week with 35 cats being cared for at each clinic. Due to some challenges of travel, the program was paused but has now re-started as one of the vet techs who was working with this program continued her education and became a veterinarian. She was hired for the mobile unit and the clinic is now, once again, offering low-cost spay and neuter on a weekly basis.
Hog Heaven board members, volunteers and supporters have participated in Biscuit Bingo in Pittsburgh for the last 11 years. This is one of the biggest fundraiser events for Hog Heaven and a few other rescues in the area. Also in Pittsburgh, Hog Heaven participates in the Knit & Crochet Quilt Festival where they wind yarn and work the coat check as a means for fundraising and getting the word out about Hog Heaven. In Erie, the Hog Heaven team took part in the Insane 5K Inflatable Challenge. The Hog Heaven team works many hours in helping to set up and assist with DukeFest in Franklin.
Hog Heaven has been a beneficiary of DukeFest Benefit Dog Walk funds as the DukeFest Team proudly salutes the work and the love that Hog Heaven folks have for animals and people.
Due to the increasing number of potbelly pig surrenders the farm is taking in, the funds from last year were used to provide a comfortable environment for the piggies. Calls for pig surrenders from owners average three to five calls per day. They do not accept un-spayed or un-neutered pigs due to behavior issues and “surprise … new piggies!”
This year, Hog Heaven is setting aside the DukeFest money and will determine the best use as priorities change and emergency arise.
Precious Paws Animal Rescue
Precious Paws Animal Rescue, or PPAR, was founded in 2001 in Franklin by a diverse group of local citizens who care deeply about animals. The rescue has no paid staff (with the exception of the vet and tech for the SNYP clinic) and all of its efforts are coordinated through volunteers. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation and a Guidestar platinum rated charity.
PPAR believes that all life has the right to freedom from cruelty, abuse, ignorance, exploitation and neglect, and is entitled to legal, moral and ethical consideration and protection. Furthermore, the rescue believes that every domesticated animal has the right to be wanted, cherished and protected, and deserves not to be born unless these rights can be guaranteed.
PPAR receives no tax dollars, federal or state funding and relies on donations, grants, fundraisers, bequests (wills) and adoption fees to fund its programs. PPAR is not affiliated with other humane organizations or animal control facilities, although it does partner with other organizations for the good of animals. It exists through the generosity of many individuals and businesses and is supported by a community that cares.
The SNYP Clinic actively works to prevent pet overpopulation through weekly spay and neuter clinics in Franklin. Since April 2014, the clinic has spayed or neutered more than 3,900 animals, both dogs and cats, and is Venango County’s only non-profit spay/neuter clinic. More than 60 percent of the surgeries were free or at a reduced cost, based on the pet owner’s income and the ownership status of the animal (feral cats are typically $35). The rescue has several volunteers who help with TNR to fix feral cats before they become a population problem.
The Oscar Fund, named for an abused Jack Russell terrier determined to survive, helps sick, injured or abused animals that might otherwise go untreated or be euthanized. The Oscar Fund has spent more than $14,000 on medical expenses for un-owned animals or for animals whose owners can’t afford it.
The Pet Food Bank distributes cat and dog food to needy pet owners. So far in 2016 alone, the Food Bank has given out two tons of each to income-eligible Venango County residents. The bank recently donated a pallet of food to the Clintonville food bank for southern Venango County residents.
The adoption program works to actively place animals in forever homes. Beyond the initial placement, Precious Paws works to keep animals in their homes — good behavior is taught to animals in foster homes prior to adoption, and pet behavioral counseling is offered through a volunteer trainer to help owners even after adoption.
Operation Warm Doggy is held at least twice a year and offers free straw, dog houses (as available), feral cat styrofoam shelters to Venango County residents to keep animals warm in the winter. The next Operation Warm Doggy will be held Sunday, Oct. 22.
Safehaven Small Breed Rescue
Safehaven Small Breed Rescue is a non-profit, state-licensed rescue, dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating puppy mill breeding dogs and those born in the mills with birth defects. It is located near Tionesta. The rescue offers sanctuary to geriatric dogs who are too old for adoption and just need somewhere to live out their days, hospice care for dogs with terminal illnesses by providing a loving home environment, and adoption of dogs rehabilitated and ready to move on to permanent homes.
More about Safehaven can be found on its Facebook page.
Forest / Venango County Animal Response Team — CART
The Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team (PASART) was created through a private-public partnership to serve as a unifying network of organizations, businesses, federal, state, county and local government agencies and individuals that support the prevention, preparedness, response and recovery for emergencies affecting animals. Because disaster response needs to happen at a local level, PASART builds County Animal Response Teams (CARTs) across the state. County coordinators are selected to lead the development of county teams consisting of volunteers who will respond to emergencies at the local level.
The local CART folks have been deployed numerous times in the last couple years for assistance with seized animals, abandoned animals and those that have been victims of auto accidents.
Club Pet Adoption
Club Pet Adoption operates as a No Kill Animal Rescue located in Transfer. They have been serving their community and surrounding communities for the past 18 years. They are an all breed rescue but focuses on those that are considered senior, special needs and unadoptable.
Club Pet Adoption has placed more than 5,600 homeless and unwanted animals in its years of operation. Because it receives no federal, state or local funding, the rescue holds numerous fundraisers throughout the year to provide a safe and comfortable shelter environment daily for more than 70 dogs and 50 cats. The rescue’s belief is that “All Souls Have Worth.”
Venango County Humane Society
The Venango County Humane Society traces its beginnings to 1954, when 18 animal lovers gathered to discuss the problem of strays, unwanted animals and animal cruelty. In June 1956, the Venango County Humane Society was incorporated with the stated purpose of the corporation to:
“Provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals; to provide proper care for stray and injured animals; to enforce all laws designed for the protection of animals; to secure in lawful manner the arrest, conviction and punishment of persons violating such laws; and through the dissemination of literature and other educational means, to instruct and induce people to be kind, considerate and merciful in their treatment of animals.”
The humane society is located at 286 S. Main St. in Seneca.
Craft fair planned Sept.30
Almost right on the heels of DukeFest, Precious Paws Animal Rescue Center in Franklin is gearing up for its fall craft fair.
A craft fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, at the Rocky Grove fire hall, 29 Shuffstall St., Franklin. The fair will feature more than 50 vendors, baked goods, food, raffle baskets, a 50-50 drawing, a pet photographer and more.
A rabies and microchip clinic will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Shots are $10 each.
Those who take a bag of dog or cat food, cat litter, a cleaning product or makes a donation will receive a ticket for a chance to win a door prize.
Proceeds from the fair benefit the Precious Paws Animal Rescue, the Oscar Fund and the Spay Neuter Your Pet program.
The fall craft fair is the rescue’s biggest event for the year and the donations it receives are crucial for the help PPAR can give to the county.
Precious Paws is an animal rescue incorporated as a nonprofit in 2001. It is a tax exempt 501(c)3 charity with a Guidestar platinum charity rating.
Its mission is to foster and adopt homeless animals into forever homes, alleviate the suffering of animals and provide low-cost spay neuter services to the community. Precious Paws operates the weekly Spay Neuter Your Pet (SNYP) clinic in Franklin, as well as providing adoption services, an animal assistance fund, a pet food bank and providing straw and housing for pets in need.
More information is available by contacting the rescue at (814) 671-9827.
The rescue is also planning to sell hardtack in November-December. It will cost $5 per half pound and $8 per pound. It is also accepting donations of Domino’s sugar and light corn syrup.
Meanwhile, Stephanie Deluca posted about adoptable feline Simba on the rescue’s Facebook page.
“Simba is such a loving sweet little boy. He loves to play loves to cuddle and loves cats and dogs. … He is fixed and has all his shots,” Deluca posted.
Adoption applications are available on the Precious Paws website, pparfranklin.com
Don’t worry it will grow back
Clarion PAWS resident Jared recently got a haircut and baby Ike still needs a home.
“Big guy Jared got a haircut on Saturday. Now he is ready for his furrever family to take him home and help him be more active. That will help him be able to groom himself. Or he loves to be brushed but we just don’t have enough volunteers to brush him daily,” the Shippenville shelter posted on its Facebook page.
Sweet baby Ike is still at the shelter, a Facebook post said.
“Many people have come to meet him and fallen in love with other residents. We are happy they have found homes but Ike is trying to ‘sneak out’ to find his furrever family,” a post said.
Clarion PAWS is located at 11348 Route 322, Shippenville, Clarion River Hill, between Scrap Happy and Clarion Electric. The adoption center is open from 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
The center is closed Fridays and Sundays.
More information is available online at www.clarionpaws.org, the group’s Facebook page or by calling (814) 229-1231.
The Venango County Humane Society in Seneca has Apricat available for adoption.
Apricat, a domestic short hair, is a 2 1/2 year old female. She’s an orange and white tiger with a slender body and long legs.
“Apricat is a gentle, friendly girl. She enjoys being petted and will need to be spayed before being adopted,” the shelter said in a Petfinder listing.
The shelter’s hours are from noon to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. It is closed Sundays and holidays.
The humane society is located at 286 S. Main St., Seneca. More information on the Venango County Humane Society is available by calling (814) 677-4040.
Tri-County Animal Rescue Center in Shippenville has the cure for those empty nest blues. It posted about several adoptable cats on its Facebook page.
Tri-County is located at 9562 Route 322, Shippenville. More information about Tri-County Animal Rescue Center is available on its Facebook page, by calling (814) 918-2032 or emailing contactus@Tricounty-arc.org.
Donations desperately needed
Skye’s Spirit Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Harrisville took in a great horned owl for treatment.
“This gorgeous great horned owl came in after it was found along a road, it was in the same place for two days. It has severe head trauma, severe bruising and an eye injury from being hit by a vehicle. He’s on pain meds and anti-inflammatory meds. I will do all I can, time will tell for this poor guy,” the center posted on Facebook.
“We’re not receiving enough donations to keep taking more animals. One out of every 10 animals that are coming in are brought with a donation. We are not funded by the state or federal government. We need your help to care for these animals,” the center said in a post.
Donations can be made through the center’s website at www.skyes-spirit.com or mailed to SSWRC, 889 Farren Surrena Road. Harrisville, PA, 16038.
**Clarion PUPs in Strattanville will be participating in the Farmers and Crafters Day during Clarion’s Autumn Leaf Festival. The rescue will be located at R. James Smathers Insurance Agency on the corner of Fourth and Main streets, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6. The rescue will be selling homemade baked goods, crafts and more.
**Lots O Spots Acres, in conjunction with Rescue Dogs Rock, will hold an adoption event and fundraiser from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Tractor Supply store in Cranberry.
More information about the event can be found on Facebook. The event is organized by Tracy Rivers and Sam McGarvey. Some adoptable dogs will also be on hand during the day.
**The Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center will hold an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, at the center located at 21601 Stull Road, Saegertown.
All About Animals is a weekly blog that appears on Venangoextra.com and Clarionextra.com. Interested persons or groups can submit information to firstname.lastname@example.org. Readers may also submit photos or stories of their animals. More information about the blog is available by contacting Anna Applegate at (814) 677-8364.