The Atlanta DogFest Walk ‘n Roll event, which will begin at 8:30 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Atlanta, is the signature national event of Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit started in California that has expanded to the East Coast in states like Florida and New York.
“Atlanta was the first city of seven to host the event last year and it was a great success,” said Atlanta DogFest chair and puppy raiser Heidi Van Antwerp.
This year’s event will kick off with an opening ceremony presented by a team consisting of a recipient and their service dog followed by a one-mile walk on a wheel-friendly course.
Participants are encouraged to bring their own dogs for the walk.
The event will then feature a festival with carnival activities, inflatables, vendor and food booths, a police K-9 demonstration and an agility course for pets.
Van Antwerp said the event is volunteer sponsored and all proceeds will go towards providing assistance dogs to people in need, free of charge.
“From birth through the life of our dogs the process costs about $50,000 for care and training, so we’re hoping to raise that much during the DogFest,” she said.
Sandy Yates, a puppy raiser for the program and a Dunwoody resident, said helping the process is a rewarding experience.
“As a puppy raiser, I’m excited to meet some of the individuals and families who’ve been helped by the nonprofit and see the dogs we helped train,” she said.
Yates said she especially appreciates that all proceeds from the event go to helping people in need.
“We volunteer our time and none of us make money for what we do, which is why events like DogFest are so important,” she said. “Canine Companions tries hard to raise money to go directly to the dogs and training centers so the staff number is very small and all volunteer-sponsored.”
In 2013, the nonprofit placed 254 assistance dogs with people in need.
It has about 1,850 graduate teams, which are dogs actively working with people in need, throughout the country.
If you go:
When: Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: 4400 N. Peachtree Road, Atlanta
Cost: Free, donations requested
Information: www.cci.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.