By CASEY CROUCHER
A year and a half ago Montgomery County SPCA volunteers were doubtful Rambo the disabled German Shepherd would ever get adopted, but on Saturday they were pleased to see the gentle giant being carried around in a wagon at the 12th Annual Dog Walk-A-Thon.
Susan Edward, Rambo’s savior, said she wasn’t looking for another dog at the time.
“I already had Titan, my other German Shepherd that I adopted from the MC-SPCA four years ago,” Edward said, “so I really wasn’t looking for another dog, but then I saw Rambo.”
Rambo, the massive German Shepherd had severe issues with his hind legs and was nearly deaf when Edward saw him at the shelter. She said volunteers told her about his condition and that made her want the K-9 even more.
“He’s so gentle and he’s great with everyone,” she said, choking back tears. “I couldn’t let him just stay there, I had to have him.”
Edward and nearly 350 other dog owners showed up to Saturday’s Dog- Walk-A-Thon at Shuttleworth Park to either walk, or wheel, in Edward’s case, their furry friends around the park.
Gina Kline, Amsterdam’s Animal Control Officer and volunteer at the MC-SPCA, said the event is a great way for people to get outside with their pets.
“Today’s a great day for dog owners,” Kline said. “We get to see people out, at the park, having fun, helping support a great cause. It’s also nice to see SPCA alumni dogs, like Rambo; it’s great seeing them happy with their new families.”
This year’s walk-a-thon was organized to raise money for the MC-SPCA’s new shelter building.
The organization’s treasurer, Maureen Rossi, said the new building, which will be located in the city as opposed to the current location in the town of Florida, will be a major step up from their current site.
“We’re currently in a 70-year-old, tiny cinderblock house set up on a steep hill,” she said. “We don’t have enough room for the animals we want to house and it’s been an issue for a long time.”
Rossi said the shelter plans to double their capacity for dogs and triple their capacity for cats in their new location.
“We need to give this community what it needs,” she said.
Jan Zumbolo, interim manager of the MC-SPCA, said the shelter raised $8,500 toward the new site before Saturday’s fundraiser.
“We’re hoping to reach $25,000 by the end of today,” Zumbolo said.
She said the shelter will break ground at the new building in the fall.
The organization not only saw alumni dogs, but they met with future adopters Saturday as well.
Bryanna Lawrence of Queensbury said she saw an advertisement for Fi-Fi, a shih tzu-border collie mix, on the MC-SPCA’s website and was interested in adopting her immediately.
“I saw [Fi-Fi] online and I really wanted to meet her in person,” Lawrence said. “I called the shelter up this morning because I saw they were having this walk-a-thon. I asked if I could meet Fi-Fi and they said absolutely.”
Kim Pacheco, MC-SPCA board member and volunteer, said the people at Saturday’s event were the kinds of people the organization wants adopting their lovable pets.
“This event is just wonderful because you get a lot of diverse people with their pets here to have fun, relax and meet each other,” Pacheco said. “We take adoptions very seriously and we have to meet with the future adopters more than once to make sure they’re right for our pets. People at this event obviously love their animals and it shows, these are the types of people we want adopting from us.”
Dog owners got a chance to mingle with fellow owners and share stories about their pup’s past.
One puppy in particular received a lot of attention for his story.
Magnet, a five-month-old husky-lab mix, has Cerebellar Hypoplasia where the cerebellum is not completely mature at birth.
Heather Axtell, Magnet’s adopter, said she saw an advertisement on Craig’s List for the puppy. The ad was giving the puppy away for free and if no one claimed the dog after a certain period of time the owners were going to put him down.
Axtell couldn’t let that happen, she said, so she went and got the puppy.
“When I went to get him he was very skinny and he didn’t smell good,” she said. “Then I noticed he couldn’t walk.”
Axtell said Magnet has been dubbed a rescue dog by the Mia Foundation in Rochester and is currently on a waiting list to get his Red Flyer Pet Wheelchair.
“He’s the happiest little baby,” she said. “He loves people and he loves attention; he never leaves my side, that’s why I named him Magnet.”
Axtell was part of the Peaceful Paws team for Saturday’s walk-a-thon. Team organizer Amanda Evenson said this was the team’s first year at the walk-a-thon, but it “hopefully isn’t their last.”
“I loved this event today, it was great meeting everyone and seeing all the dogs,” she said. “I love the MC-SPCA, they’re so dedicated to the animals and do whatever they can to make sure pets are taken care of and treated properly.”