People from Avon to Florida contributed a combined total of $2,000 in unsolicited donations to fund medical treatment for Cocoa, a springer spaniel rescued from a Waterville Road home in Avon on Jan. 21.
Beverly LaPlume, Avon/Canton animal control officer, thought to turn to community for more help – this time for purchasing a new animal control vehicle.
With no money from the town of Avon to fund it in the 2011-12 budget, LaPlume is trying to raise $20,000 for a 2011 Dodge Caravan. Miller Foods, Inc., of Avon, and Mitchell Auto Group, of Simsbury, are co-sponsoring Waggin’ for Wheels on Saturday, June 18 for the cause.
“The animal control vehicle is becoming more of a financial drain,” LaPlume said, noting that the 1998 Ford Windstar she is driving for the job has cost $8,000 in repairs to date, including transmission and brake replacements to name a few. The recall of a metal bar behind the back tires of the Ford left her without the van for a month this spring as she borrowed the police department’s Crown Victoria that is normally used for the department’s D.A.R.E. program.“Keeping it on the road is not cost-effective any more.”
The fundraising will ultimately save Avon $30,000, since Mitchell Auto Group is locating the vehicle at a discounted price.
“Every little bit counts,” LaPlume said, “We will go on collecting [donations] until we reach the point we need to.”
The vehicle does not fall high on the priority list in the police fleet portion of the Avon budget, in comparison to possible needs to purchase new police cruisers, she said. She said she hopes to have the new car by next winter, and, until then, the current van, which was donated by an Avon resident in 2007 and has 155,000 miles on it, is safe for her and the dogs. “
It has served [Avon/Canton] well,” LaPlume said. “It’s an old car. How much more can you expect out of it?”
LaPlume, who works Mondays to Fridays, spends a considerable amount of her time in the animal control van patrolling “high volume call areas.” She also needs the vehicle to transport injured dogs and pick-up wandering canines or surrendered dogs. LaPlume responds to select wildlife calls from the bear that killed Avon cocker spaniel, Max on Stonefield Road June 3 to bats loose in houses, provided that wild animals have come in contact with humans or pets.
Entering the summer months, which are the busiest times for animal control, LaPlume has already had numerous Avon and Canton calls. That means more driving. In the summer, more people have their windows open, and take their dogs outside, so there are more complaints about dogs barking, roaming on neighbors’ property and leaving deposits in yards, and people leaving their dogs outside and in cars for too long in warm weather.
During the June 9 thunderstorm that knocked 10 percent of Avon’s power, LaPlume picked up two dogs that had gotten loose because of electric fences outages. That is not uncommon in the summer, she said.
She also gives local Girl Scouts, Brownies and children tours of the van to educate them about animal control functions.
The new animal control vehicle will be outfitted with cages behind the front seats and the back trunk, as well as a police radio. Signs Direct, of Simsbury, will do the lettering on the side of the vehicle. The vehicle also carries leashes, dog crates and medical supplies. LaPlume said she is looking forward to having sliding doors on both sides of the new car, as the sliding door on the Windstar sometimes sticks.
“It’s important if I’m on-scene and have a dog on a stretcher,” LaPlume said.
She has known the Miller-Stevens family since 1996 and approached them first for help.
“I love dogs,” Camlynn Miller-Stevens, vice president of marketing and distribution for the Oma’s Pride and O’Paws pet food brands sold at Miller Foods, said of her interest in helping raise money for the new vehicle. She owns Buster, a rescued boxer and American bulldog cross.
“Beverly and Animal Control do a great unsung hero service. It’s a thankless job,” Miller-Stevens said.
Miller Foods donates food to the canine shelter, LaPlume said.
The event is two-tiered, and includes a 1.2-mile walk around Fisher Meadows Trail for area residents and their dogs from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., followed by a canine festival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Miller Foods.
There will be two water stations along the way, funded by AT&T and the Avon Cosi. Dunkin’ Donuts is providing doughnuts and coffee at the end of the walk. Registration for the walk is at the main entrance to Fisher Meadows near the soccer fields, and there will also be volunteers stationed at the Fisher Meadows Trail Head on the Old Farms Road entrance by Country Club Road.
Sponsor forms are available online and donations are requested.
LaPlume is prohibiting the use of retractable leashes during the walk because owners can control the dogs better with regular leashes in a setting where there will be a lot of dogs. Leashes will be available for loan.
There will be over 21 vendors at the canine festival and area businesses have donated prizes for a raffle that costs $5 for 10 tickets. The event includes menus for humans and canines -- fried dough, fried oreos, hamburgers, hotdogs and other foods for the humans, as well as dog biscuits and J. Foster's doggy ice cream for the canines. Dogs and their owners can also relax and get massages.
Volunteers include project manager Capri Frank, Avon Police Chief Mark Rinaldo, Canton Police Chief Chris Arciero, Pamela Prado of the Avon Police Department Records Division, event treasurer Sharon Dau, Rinaldo’s assistant, Sandy Trudeau, of Miller Foods, Jill Mitchell, and Tanner Miller, among others. Some of the area businesses involved include Progressive Animal Wellness, Wholesome Animal Grocery Store, Brownstone Bakery for Dogs.
Dave Carr of Dave and Jerry Dog Agility will be doing a dog agility demonstration, and Rob Johnson of the Manchester Police Department is performing a canine demonstration. Danger Pants and the Killer Corduroys, of Manchester, and singer/songwriter Brock Weary are booked to play music.
If the event is canceled due to the weather, the rain date for the event is June 25.
Donations can be made payable to Town of Avon/Waggin' for Wheels, Attn: Sharon Dau and sent to the Avon Police Department at 60 West Main Street, Avon, CT 06001.
For more information about the event, vendors and donating to Waggin’ for Wheels, visit millerfoodsonline.com.