A dog’s life should be simple: frolic, sniff, have family fun, and have fun. But some dogs are forced to live much more complicated lives.
A local councilor and the community are working hard to unravel this strangulation.
Over the past five years, Ward 1 Council member Ted Berry and the Speak for the Unspoken pet rescue organization have organized the Ted Berry 5K-9 Dog Walk / Run, which brings together hundreds people, dogs and donations.
“It was an exceptional event,” says Berry. “This is the biggest free dog walk I have ever seen in the country. We do not charge. But what we do is say that if you would like to donate, we would appreciate it. … (We received) well over $ 50,000 in gift cards, dog food, bedding, toys and everything.
In 2016, Berry sponsored an ordinance passed by Grove City Council preventing the sale of dogs from high-volume breeders known as puppy mills. After being sued against him by Petland Inc. and the legislation struck down at the state level, he was inspired to host this event.
“I promised at that time that I would dedicate myself to making sure that we raised enough money to support our local rescues,” he said. “So that’s the premise, that’s how it all started. And I have a great team of people, Speak for the Unspoken.
read more about Speak for the Unspoken here
Speak for the Unspoken, often abbreviated as Speak, is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit dedicated to helping dogs in need. It was founded in 2013 to educate the public about the inappropriate breeding of dogs with a merle mutation that results in a double merle. These dogs, often Australian Shepherds, are more likely to be deaf, blind, or both. Over the years, the organization has broadened its scope to educate and rescue dogs with medical and special needs.
“We have dogs with significant heart problems that require very expensive heart surgeries,” says Andrea Kochensparger, executive director of Speak. “We have three-legged dogs. We have diabetic and (tick affected) dogs. Dogs with health problems that require a lot of money to take care of them. “
When 5K was first created, Berry and Speak asked for physical donations, including dog food. While these types of donations are still accepted this year, they emphasize a much lighter contribution: gift cards.
“Especially last year with COVID, we’ve since encouraged everyone to just bring gift cards because, honestly, gift cards are more useful to us,” Kochensparger said. “(For example), gift cards to PetSmart and Petco. We can keep these cards and use them for animals when we need them. (We also need) gas cards when doing transportations because we bring these dogs from all over the country. We breed half a dozen Texas dogs every month.
For those who cannot participate in the race, donations can also be made to Speak at www.speakfortheunspoken.com. Speak is in urgent need of volunteers and foster families too, so throw a bone to a dog and get involved.
“Let’s face it, dogs are the key to networking and relationship building,” Berry says. “How many people have met their partner at a dog park or walked a dog? I always say this is great socialization for the dog and bipeds.
Brendan Martin is a contributing writer. Comments welcome to [email protected]