Earthplace, the nature discovery center in Westport, went to the dogs Sunday at its second annual Walk for Wildlife. To help support the center's animal rehabilitation program, dog owners such as Katie Gervasio walked the 2-mile trail system, which runs through the center's 85-acre wildlife sanctuary.
And because dogs are allowed only on the day of this event, Gervasio, a Westport resident, jumped at the rare opportunity to enjoy the trails with her 5-year-old son David and their dog Max.
"I think this is great. I've really enjoyed spending one-on-one time with my son," Gervasio said. "And our dog never gets the chance to walk through these beautiful trails. I've enjoyed being here with them."
Beyond enjoying the trails, Gervasio said she wanted to get out and support Earthplace.
"One of my children goes to preschool here, and I respect the way they support wildlife," Gervasio said. "I like to support them. It's important and they do a good job."
From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., dogs and their human companions not only enjoyed the trails, they also were treated to a variety of demonstrations, including a police K-9, agility, pet first aid and CPR, and search and rescue. Several pet-related vendors and exhibits were also part of the walk's appeal.
Jamie Jennewein, an animal care technician at Earthplace and one of the event coordinators, said the walk was a big success.
"We're definitely happy with the turnout. There were 75 plus dogs" that walked the trails, Jennewein said. "One of our walkers raised about $2,000 in sponsorships; that's huge for us, and we're so thankful."
All of the money raised goes directly to the center's Wildlife Rehabilitation Program, which helps hundreds of injured birds and mammals a year, and the Animal Ambassador Program, an educational program.
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