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An event that’s for the dogs

APF to hold 20th annual Fireplug 500 Walk for Animals; town approves expansion

The Animal Protective Foundation is hosting its 20th annual Fireplug 500 Walk for Animals on Saturday, Sept. 8, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Central Park in Schenectady.

The Animal Protective Foundation is hosting its 20th annual Fireplug 500 Walk for Animals on Saturday, Sept. 8, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Central Park in Schenectady.

— Hundreds of dogs will descend upon a local park to lend a helping paw for their fellow animals in need.

The Animal Protective Foundation is hosting its 20th annual Fireplug 500 Walk for Animals on Saturday, Sept. 8, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Central Park in Schenectady. The event raises money to support the nonprofit’s animal care, adoption, and spay and neuter programs. Walkers can sign up as an individual or with a team of fellow walkers, with or without a canine companion. There will also be activities, pet-themed vendors and prizes offered for reaching various fundraising goals.

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Father Harold Reed of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Schenectady will once again attend the APF’s annual Fireplug 500 Walk for Animals and offer blessings for pets.

A handful of volunteers and around 35 walkers were at the first walk 20 years ago, but it has grown greatly, APF spokeswoman Marguerite Pearson said. Around 1,500 people attended last year and raised about $65,000.

“We just kept at it every year and kept adding more features,” Pearson said. “Now it has grown to be the largest dog walk in the region.”

This year, she said early registrations have been “a little tight,” but the group is hoping more people will sign up as the race nears. There is no registration deadline, but registering before the event is preferred. Walkers are requested to donate a minimum of $25.

“It’s a really great day for the family,” she said. “There are activities for kids and of course activities for animals, so it is just really a nice family event that you can do with your pets.”

This year’s goal is to raise $70,000, and the walk is the biggest fundraiser for the nonprofit.

Each registered dog walker will receive a doggie bag with toys, samples and other goodies, while supplies last, and a bandana for each dog. There are also five different prizes offered for reaching certain fundraising or donation levels.

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