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St. Clair Shores

April 19, 2013

This one’s for the dogs … and the cats

Fundraiser 5k planned for April 28 to support animal rescues

By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer

All it takes is one animal to change a life.

“I had a dog that saved my life, literally,” said Marianne Courey, chair of the St. Clair Shores Dog Park Committee and board member of Angels Supporting Animals. “There was somebody that was going to rob me. My dog stepped in between us and snarled and growled and jumped up on him, and he ran away.”

She said the same dog is also a certified therapy dog and works in local nursing homes and hospitals.

“I’ve just seen him do amazing things as far as getting people to talk and smile and laugh. I’ve always liked dogs, but it was just this one little special dog that I went, you know, there’s more like him out there and they deserve everything we have to give them,” she said.

That’s why she works so hard for the Statler Maloof Dog Park and with Angels Supporting Animals, a one-year-old organization that began as a way to help small animal rescue organizations in Michigan.

“They’re just struggling for basic medical care,” said Deborah Vitale, president and founder of Angels Supporting Animals of St. Clair Shores. “They (small animal rescue organizations) don’t have the ability or time to fundraise.”

The rescues, however, provide a valuable service — assisting the Michigan Humane Society and Macomb County Animal Shelter with finding homes for abandoned or stray animals.

“That’s where we come in,” explained Vitale, who also owns A Pets Pal pet sitting service and Pawsitive Performance, a dog training business. “We’re just fundraising. We are not a rescue. Our goal is to, each year, add another fundraiser to our repertoire.”

The money raised goes back to local animal rescues.

This month, the group is giving back to those dedicated furry friends with an event for humans and their pets — the Romping With Rover 5k Fun Run/Walk.

The event will be held from 8 a.m. to noon April 28 at Brys Park, north of Eight Mile Road and west of Harper Avenue.

“We wanted people to be able to bring their dogs,” Vitale said. “We just thought it would be a fun way to get people together and spend the morning with their dogs and their families.”

The Statler Maloof Dog Park will be closed for the morning, but dogs and their families, along with anyone who supports animals, are welcome to sign up to walk or run around the one-mile track at Brys Park with their dog on a leash.

Participants will receive goody bags from Pet Supplies Plus, be able to snack on fruit from Nino Salvaggio, drink bottled water from Home Depot and check out other local pet-related businesses that will be at the event. Registration is $20 for adults and $15 for children ages 5-18 years old, and can be done in advance at www.angelssupportinganimals.eventbrite.com. Registration is also available the day of the event.

Runners will be on the track from 8-9:30 a.m., and the walk starts at 9:30 a.m., said Courey.

She said if the Brys Park parking lot is full, LA Fitness is allowing overflow parking in their lot. Participants can walk from there along an alley behind Walgreens to get to the park. Dogs must be on a non-retractable leash, and organizers ask that participating animals be up-to-date on vaccinations and not aggressive.

Courey said the idea sparked from First Lady Michelle Obama’s push for America to get moving and the fact that Brys Park includes a track.

“It’s spring, and people have probably been sitting around and dogs have been sitting around,” she said. “What a great way to get everybody out in the spring and get some fresh air and get their legs moving … and get some community together.”

The group hopes to attract at least 100 participants.

“If we could get 200, I would be ecstatic,” said Courey. The event will go on, rain, shine or snow, and all money raised will go to animal rescue organizations in Michigan.

In its first year, Angels Supporting Animals raised almost $10,000 at a September fundraising dinner at the Lochmoor Club in Grosse Pointe Woods. A fundraiser at Colleen’s Irish Pub earlier this year raised $2,200 for the St. Clair Shores K9 unit. Another Lochmoor Club event is planned for this fall.