WEST ORANGE, NJ — Members of the “West Orange Dogs” Facebook group are banding together to support the West Orange Animal Welfare League (WOAWL), a local 501©3 not-for-profit organization that works to avoid needless killing of abandoned and unwanted animals in the area, through the inaugural Barktober Halloween Dog Parade on Oct. 20 at O’Connor Park.
When one resident began posting photos in the online forum of her dog in a Halloween costume, many others followed suit, adding similar photos on the thread of their own dogs. Feeling inspired, resident Laura Lab suggested that the group host a community dog parade and costume contest to benefit the local animal shelter.
Lab, who has participated in similar events across the county for many years with her beloved dog, Lacey, said these events are typically only held for entertainment or networking. In this case, Lab was determined to raise funds to help support a local organization, and fellow residents Beth Platner, Stacey Reese and Jessica Fiorilli jumped at the chance to help organize the event.
“It seems to me that here we have all of our pets, whom we love dearly and are pampered little creatures, and then there are a bunch of animals that could really use some help,” said Lab. “You have to think about those in need, and that includes the animals that are in cages all day long.”
All proceeds from the upcoming event will benefit the WOAWL, which is run entirely by volunteers on a very limited budget, according to Lab. The cost to register is $8 in advance or $10 on the day of the event.
“[WOAWL] runs on a very short leash, no pun intended, and they don’t have a lot of money,” said Lab. “The reason I chose it is because if any of our dogs got lost, that would be the first place that you’d turn to…You always assume that this service or this entity will be there, but if it wasn’t for the volunteers who actually run it, it wouldn’t be there.”
As October is also National Adopt a Shelter Pet Month, and the WOAWL is hosting its monthly adoption day later that afternoon from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 311 Watchung Avenue, Lab said it was the perfect timing to host the inaugural event.
Mayor Robert Parisi and two special guests will serve as the “rufferies” for the costume contest, and will select winners in the following categories:
- Overall “Top Dog”
- Best Pack/Family
- Most Creative
- Most Fur-ocious
- Best Couple (Dog & Owner)
Lab thanked the West Orange Department of Recreation, particularly director Bill Kehoe and special events coordinator Candy Myrick, for assisting in the organization of the event and securing a location.
All dogs must be vaccinated in order to participate. In-person registration will begin at 9:30 a.m., with the parade being held from 10:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Visit www.westorange.org/rec to pre-register for the event. Cash and checks will be accepted at the registration table, with all checks made payable to the "West Orange Animal Welfare League." The WOAWL will also accept shelter supplies, such as dog and cat toys, during the event.
Sponsorship opportunities are still available for anyone looking to provide the tax-deductible funding that is necessary to keep WOAWL afloat. Sponsors are invited to set up promotional tables at the event. Contact Lab or Platner at WestOrangeDogParade2018@gmail.com for more information.
Current sponsors include:
Advantage Termite & Pest Control
Assemblyman John McKeon
Dan’s Music Studio
Essex Green Sunoco
Once Upon a Tail
Paul M. Petigrow
Select Auto Towing
The Essex House Restaurant
Mark & Laura Lab
Dom & Jessica Fiorilli
First Mountain Preschool
Al and Sukaina Barlas
Elefant Soup Grafix
Platner IT Solutions
Willow & Olivia
TAPinto West Orange