Paws for applause

Dog-friendly fundraiser to benefit disabled residents

During the annual Puppy Pawlooza event, dog lovers will have the chance to spoil their furry friends with a day of fun.

At the same time, they’ll be helping local residents with disabilities to get job training, find educational and recreation resources as well as other important services.

Gateway Services will host the fundraising event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Center Grove Middle School North. Pet owners are encouraged to bring their leashed dogs to the event, where a pet photographer will be taking portraits, an animal communicator will help share what your dog is feeling and contests will crown the most focused dog or the pet who takes commands best, among other competitions.

All of it goes to helping support Gateway Services and its mission of helping individuals with disabilities as well as their families.

“The hard part for Gateway is, there is just no funding. All of the services we provide are underfunded,” said Eve Pressnell-Moore, director of employment services for Gateway.

Gateway Services has been operating in Johnson County for more than 50 years. The organization provides employment opportunities for people with disabilities, offers day programs for individuals 16 and older to help them socialize and forms small groups for people to get out into the community.

The organization has been a champion for the disabled, as well as their families, since being founded in 1963, said Kim Lakin, director of day services for Gateway.

“In the past, if you had a disability, Gateway was where you went,” Lakin said. “But in recent years, there has been more competition, so we’ve started to see this huge need to inform people.”

Puppy Pawlooza was founded last year to be an additional fundraiser for Gateway Services. Not only did organizers feel like dogs were a theme that many, many people could get behind, but Gateway clients also are involved with service dogs.

“Everybody loves their dogs, so what better way to draw people in to help people?” Presnell-Moore said.

The event ended up being so successful that organizers expanded it. Puppy Pawlooza has moved to a larger space and added more vendors and participants.

Vendors will be selling items such as homemade dog treats, outfits for pets and pet-centric artwork. Rescue dog operations will have tables set up to inform people about their services. Search-and-rescue and CPR demonstrations will be given throughout the day.

“You looked across the room last year, and it was like a sea of dogs. For dog lovers, it was the coolest thing to see,” Presnell-Moore said. “And then it got the community to come out and learn about who we are and what we do, since not a lot of people know that.”

If you go

Puppy Pawlooza

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: Center Grove Middle School North, 202 N. Morgantown Road, Greenwood

What: A dog-centric fundraiser to support Gateway Services. Families and individuals can bring their leashed dogs to take advantage of pet photographers, an animal communicator and other vendors.

Information: Facebook.com/PuppyPawlooza

Author photo
Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.