Labrapalooza takes over Kingsford Park


Kingsford Park was alive with leaping labradors and their generous owners on Sunday, as one of Oakville’s biggest pet rescue groups – Lab Rescue – held its annual fundraiser.

Walking around Labrapalooza you see the many vendors that support the dog rescue and the efforts they make in order to find loving homes for the dogs they foster. Also on hand were people like Val and Andrew Neil, who have been attending the charity event every year since adopting their dog two years ago.

“The interaction with other labradors and meeting other lab owners and seeing all the work the volunteers have done is what I love about coming to this charity,” says Val Neil. The couple has had great experiences adopting from Lab Rescue and says the volunteers are amazing.

Andrew Neil and his dog start off the annual 2k dog walk around Kingsford park for Labrapalooza.

Andrew Neil and his dog start off the annual 2k dog walk around Kingsford park for Labrapalooza.

Not only does everyone get to jump from booth to booth, they also have the opportunity to get free massages for their dog, information on how to properly care for their dogs, free nail clipping, access to the leash- free dog park, and free dog-to-dog butt sniffs.

Dogs attending also had the opportunity to receive a free course from Karen Partington, who helps show owners how to exercise their dog through agility routines. Over the past five years, she has fostered more than dozen dogs and volunteers with Lab Rescue.

Partington says fostering a dog comes with many benefits.  “I enjoy the chance to save the dog’s life because the shelters are crowded and many good dogs have to be put down because there’s no room. They (shelters) can’t and don’t have the time to work through any issues, so Lab Rescue gives a dog another chance.”

Steve Dyck and his dog Strummer have been friends with the Lab Rescue for five years now. Dyck adopted Strummer five years ago, when the dog was brought to the shelter with her brother. Now, attending Labrapalooza and visiting Strummer’s brother has become an annual event.

“They get excited when they see each other, it’s good to see. Strummer and her brother act like they’ve never been apart when we come to this event,” Dyck says.

Lab Rescue also offers support and advice to foster families until a permanent home for the dog is found.

The rescue lets the dogs be themselves in their foster homes. This also ensures that anyone willing to adopt gets a chance to see the dog’s personality traits – good and bad:  Everything from cuddling to growling when people get near their food bowl.

Captain William Bolton from Advanced Tactical Training and Communications was out on the field in support of Lab Rescue for his second year. His job involves canine ground search and rescue, as well as assistance with water rescue.

There’s a key reason, says Bolton, why he attends the event:

“To make people aware that animals are abused.”


OPP Constable Barry Reid, who attended with Jag and Knox from his canine unit, explained to children the importance of good behaviour for dogs and how they should properly be rewarded. Reid later described how his canine unit is trained to search or sniff out narcotics and other harmful material.

Caroline Beck, a second-year attendee who has adopted three dogs, gets her joy from seeing other adoptive pet owners come back with their families. “I just want people to know how much of a well-run charity this is…over 600 dogs have been placed.”

Her family first adopted from Lab Rescue seven years ago and has had nothing but positive experiences. This year, she and her daughters are raising money to help Lab Rescue pay vet bills.

She says volunteers are the heart of the organization. “They’re so dedicated. This charity is a 24/7 job for them and most of these volunteers have jobs and families and this takes up so much of their time, but they’re devoted and they love it.

“They have tireless, devoted volunteers making sure vet bills are taken care of and dogs are going to the right foster home.”