Joey Herrick, the Walt Disney of Rose Parade float designs, in previous years has delighted hundreds of millions of people around the world on New Year’s Day with floats that had dogs diving, surfing, snow skiing and skateboarding, and last year saluted military K9 team heroes.
This year Herrick, a co-founder of Natural Balance Pet Foods, has moved on from the pet food business to embrace pet rescue with his newly launched Lucy Pet Foundation, so his float in the 2014 Rose Parade will celebrate shelter dogs. And of course there must be amazing dog performances.
Rescuing animals and finding forever homes for all dogs is the everyday dream of more than 100,000 people across this land who volunteer or staff animal welfare organizations. Making that dream come true is also the theme of the Lucy Pet Foundation float in the 2014 Rose Parade.
“There are wonderful rescue and adoption organizations across this country finding homes for homeless animals, but we need to do more to stem the tide, especially with spay and neuter efforts,’’ Herrick told me by phone just days before the big parade.
Renowned veterinarian and author Karen “Doc” Halligan has spent more than a dozen years on the front lines of that effort, and is eager to take on the role of Chief Veterinary Officer of the Lucy Pet Foundation. “The Lucy Pet Foundation will be the first national spay and neuter program,’’ Halligan notes. “Spay and neuter works, but you have to go out into the communities, which we will do with mobile units, and it must be affordable,’’ Halligan told me in an interview at Fiesta Parade Floats in Irwindale, Calif., where the Lucy Pet Foundation float was taking shape.
Renowned veterinarian Karen “Doc’’ Halligan is excited to be chief veterinary officer for the Lucy Pet Foundation, which will become the first national spay and neuter program, with mobile units around the country.
To help draw attention to the cause the Lucy Pet Foundation float features eight of the most remarkable dogs ever to survive life in a shelter. Did I mention that seven of these dogs do tricks? Amazing tricks. Tricks so unbelievable you have to see them to believe them.You may have heard of one of these dogs, a 4-year-old Beagle named Daniel who doesn’t do stunts on this float, but who performed perhaps the most amazing trick of all, surviving certain death. “Daniel miraculously walked out of a gas chamber at a kill shelter in Alabama two years ago,’’ says owner Joe Dwyer. “Daniel’s story gained attention around the country and led to the passage of Daniel’s Law in a number of states, protecting shelter animals against inhumane forms of euthanasia.’’
Daniel, the amazing death-defying Beagle, gives a high five to owner Joe Dwyer.
Among those performing on the float will be professional trainer Chris Perondi from French Camp, Calif., and his assistant, wife Suhey Perondi, who demonstrated tricks on the float with their dogs Action Jackson, a terrier mix, and Flashy Ferrari.
One mission of the Lucy Pet Foundation will be to promote such laws in additional states, and Daniel will be the spokesdog for that effort, Dwyer says.
Herrick hopes the float will reach millions, sharing the goal of the Lucy Pet Foundation, which is to have spay/neuter and adoption mobile clinics in every major city in the country, preventing the unwanted births of tens of thousands of animals.
When these 40 mobile clinics are on the road and are not performing surgeries, the Lucy Foundation will work with local animal shelters to save dogs and cats whose time is up, featuring the animals in mobile adoption events at pet retail stores and events.
Ending homeless pets is right in line with this year’s “Dreams Come True’’ parade theme, a reminder that not only is it possible to attain the seemingly unattainable through extraordinary effort, but that what seems impossible can be achieved by believing in the power of our dreams.
To learn more about the Lucy Pet Foundation, click here
To learn more about Chris Perondi and his stunt dogs, click here
Doc Halligan is the author of the award-winning book Doc Halligan’s What Every Pet Owner Should Know: Prescriptions for Happy, Healthy Cats and Dogs (HarperCollins, 2007). Learn more here.
See the dogs in action: