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When it came to animal advocacy, Cindy McGraw-Davic believed in doing things in a big way. One Christmas, remembers her sister, Holly Turkovic, McGraw-Davic bought about $2,000 worth of dog bones and drove around the Pittsburgh area, delivering them to animal shelters.
"Every Saturday morning, sometimes before I was awake, she would come to my house and pick up my dogs, and then go to my mother's house and pick up her dogs, and then take them somewhere to go and play," Turkovic says. "She dedicated her life to animals."
It's only appropriate that the second-annual "Bark in the Park" fundraiser, to be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Romine Avenue Field in Port Vue in McGraw-Davic's memory, is three times as big as last year's event.
"We've tripled everything we did last year," Turkovic said. "We have 70 vendors, ranging from dog-related items and dog treats, to wreaths, perfumes, essential oils, all kinds of makers and artists, you name it."
The event, which is free and open to the public, is raising money to develop a 3.5-acre dog park at the end of Portsmouth Drive, off of Washington Boulevard near South Allegheny Elementary School.
Well-behaved pets of any shape or size are welcome, including dogs.
"Last year, we were worried when we said it's a dog-friendly event, but it went so smoothly that we said that any animal you can keep on a leash, in a carrier or even in a purse is OK," Turkovic says.
Cindy's Memorial Dog Park was conceived after McGraw-Davic's death Oct. 5, 2015, of small-cell lung cancer at age 46. Turkovic says Port Vue has set aside borough-owned property near the Port Vue Athletic Association ballfields and volunteers are currently working to clear brush, unwanted trees and "a lot of poison ivy" from the property.
Heavy earth-moving is being done, free of charge, by Lawson Excavating, she says, and a Port Vue councilmember is working with the group to blaze a walking trail up to the park from Portsmouth Drive.
When the park is complete, hopefully early in 2018, Turkovic says, the volunteers have agreed to continue raising money to help support the dog park's ongoing maintenance and operations.
In additional to vendors, several animal adoption agencies plan to attend tomorrow's events, with rescued shelter pets ranging from dogs, cats and rabbits to birds, guinea pigs and barnyard animals, Turkovic says.
"There will be food trucks and even dog food trucks," she says.
Entertainment and demonstrations planned during the day include:
- An exotic animal show at 10:15 a.m.;
- A drill by Elizabeth police Officer Garrett Kimmell and K-9 Ryker at 11:15 a.m.;
- Two pet contests, including a "best dressed" contest and a "best voice" contest, whose winners will receive prizes from Paw & Order Dog Training and a collar vendor; and
- At 1:15, the Rev. Hyung-Suk Joe, pastor of Port Vue United Methodist Church, will perform a pet blessing.
The park group is entering the final phase of planning and development in November and volunteers from throughout the Port Vue and McKeesport areas are still welcome, Turkovic says. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
If all goes well during this winter and spring, "we hope to have this event next year at the dog park," Turkovic says.
Originally published October 06, 2017.