PASSAIC COUNTY, NJ- Last year, the goal of the Paws in the Park Committee was to raise enough funds to equip all of the K-9s in the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office with bullet proof vests. At its meeting on April 10th, 2018, the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders honored three individuals with proclamations, each of whom purchased a $3000 bullet proof vest for the K-9 unit.

Thanks to their commitment, and the efforts of the Paws in the Park Committee, all 16 dogs within the Sheriff’s K-9 unit now have a bullet-proof vest. The vests, supplied by the vendor K-9 Storm Inc., are custom made for each dog, lightweight, designed to minimize heat, and can stop bullets as well as blade weapons.

“The community’s response to the efforts of Paws in the Park has been tremendous and encouraging,” said Freeholder Director Sandi Lazzara, who spearheads the event. “There is a passion amongst residents to protect these dogs who unselfishly protect our residents every day, and we are grateful for such stronger supporters.”

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The three honorees at the meeting include Al DeMarzo, a former resident of Paterson and Hawthorne, Mark and Wanda Shefts, the co-owners of the Onyx & Breezy Foundation, and a third donor who wishes to remain anonymous.  Al DeMarzo worked as a police officer for the Passaic County Parks Commission and Haledon PD. Today, he is a successful business owner who supports local adoption agencies “Humane Tomorrow” and “DFW Rescue Me.” Mark and Wanda Shefts are the owners of the non-profit Onyx & Breezy, which directly supports funding equipment for medical facilities, research, spay and neuter programs, disaster relief, and other endeavors that benefit the welfare of animals.

“We are pleased to have achieved this year’s goal for Paws in the Park and provide protective vests for all our county K-9s,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Bruce James. “Paws in the Park continues to become bigger and more popular with each year, and all of us are looking forward to a third successful year.”

Paws in the Park is an annual event held every Columbus Day weekend. This year’s Paws in the Park will take place on Saturday, October 6th from 10am-4pm, with Sunday, October 7th as the rain date. All proceeds from the event directly benefit the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office, but the focus of the event is on local shelters and adoption agencies seeking forever homes for pets in need. Highlights from the event include demonstrations by the Sheriff’s K-9 unit, pet contests, discounted micro-chipping, and other resources and entertainment for current pet owners.