SARATOGA SPRINGS – The 5th annual Pooch Parade for Domestic Violence Awareness will take place September 26, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., in Congress Park.
The Pooch Parade will feature a short dog parade, led by therapy and working dogs, a blessing of the pets, a dog agility course, “doggie bag” treats for dogs, and “pawdicures” (nail clippings). There will also be a mobile veterinarian giving a demonstration, a vet clinic showing how to prevent Lyme disease and other doggy ailments, as well as holistic cures, such as acupuncture for dogs.
There will also be a shelter set up in Congress Park, where animals can be adopted. Last year, all of the shelter animals at the Pooch Parade found homes.
“The Pooch Parade is a wonderful way to raise awareness that is totally family friendly. Children love to come and see the dogs, from Great Danes to little Pekinese. It’s a lot of fun,” said Maggie Fronk, executive director at Wellspring.
The Pooch Parade is hosted by Wellspring, formerly DVRC, which has been providing services and assistance to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Saratoga County for over 30 years. Wellspring works with survivors of abuse to help them escape violent conditions and restart their lives. According to Wellspring statistics, domestic violence is the primary cause of homelessness in Saratoga Springs, and from 2011 to 2013, accounted for 100% of all homicides in Saratoga County.
Proceeds from the Pooch Parade will go toward Wellspring’s Safe Pet Partnership, which provides loving foster homes for pets whose owners are survivors of domestic abuse. This allows the survivor to enter a shelter or otherwise escape the violent situation and begin to rebuild a healthy life, all while knowing the pet is safe. Survivors even get updates and photos of their pet in the foster home, easing their minds until they can be reunited.
“The Safe Pet Partnership is a network of families and individuals ready to care for animals at a moment’s notice,” said Fronk. “It may be difficult to be in a situation where you and your children are in danger, but you have another family member with fur or fins or feathers that needs help too. This is another way to support what we do and support the victims many do not realize, the pets. There is a huge correlation with animal abuse and domestic violence.”
Often, abusers will use the love of family pets as a means of coercion to keep someone in the abusive relationship. Fearing for their pet’s safety, as well as their own, keeps them trapped in a cycle of violence. The Pooch Parade seeks to raise awareness of the correlation between beloved family pets and domestic abuse and show that there is help out there for victims.
The Pooch Parade is free for people and $5 for each four-footed participant. For more information about the Pooch Parade or Wellspring, visit wellspringcares.org. Wellspring also has a 24-hour hotline for domestic and sexual abuse victims and their families that can be reached by calling 518-584-8188.