EDISON, NJ - Canine Companions for Independence hosted its 4th annual DogFest New Jersey on October 7, at Roosevelt Park. The event featured speakers, music, food, dog activities including an agility course, demonstrations on how the dogs help their owners, and a one mile walk around the lake . Over $16,000 was raised to support the pairing of assistance dogs with children and adults with disabilities.
Since 1975, the year Canine Companions was first founded, the national non-profit organization has been able to place over 5,900 dogs. “This is our national signature event,” said Debra Mackenzie, senior development director, adding “we have four going across our region, which is the Northeast region that serves Maine to Virginia.”
The event was filled with volunteers, including many students from Rutgers University and the John P. Stevens High School club, JPaws. Hena Shah, a junior from JP Stevens, explained “we sell dog treats, play with dogs, and donate all the money that we earn to the animal shelter.”
Javier Robles, who is on the board of Canine Companions and has been a part of the organization for over 12 years, is the chair for this year’s DogFest. “This brings people who loves dogs out - they can come, walk their dog, they can do agility courses,” said Mr. Robles. He also currently serves as the President of Thisabled, LLC, an organization that provides support to persons with disabilities through self-empowerment and perseverance.
Sherry Saverino, a resident of Greenbrook who was at the event said, “my favorite part is everyone coming together and being excited and for me it's close to my heart because my son has a service dog, and its changed his life. All the money raised I know is going to a wonderful organization that changes lives.” Ciqui Rivera, D.J. for the event, added “There’s so much going on this world right now that this just lights you back up and just makes you go on tomorrow with another kind of happiness.”
For more information on Canine Companions for Independence, click here.