Pet lovers gather in Southington to help disabled vets, canines 

Pet lovers gather in Southington to help disabled vets, canines 

SOUTHINGTON — Pet food vendors, animal rescue organizations and dozens of animal lovers and their dogs gathered outside the Agway of Southington Saturday for the Bark-B-Q Party to benefit the Forever in My Heart Foundation.

The Forever in My Heart Foundation trains rescue dogs for service and gives them to disabled veterans at no cost. Mira Alicki, founder, said the event was an opportunity to raise awareness and find foster families for the dogs.

“Agway approached us and we are the beneficiary of this event. We were thrilled that they found us and choose us,” Alicki said.

Jenna Harrison, event coordinator, said Agway wanted to host a fundraiser and looked for the right organization. The  Forever in My Heart Foundation was chosen because it supports animals and veterans.

“It’s a cause that everyone wants to give to and we really wanted something that people were really going to come out and support,” Harrison said.

Harrison said the idea to have guests bring their dogs was fitting. Five pet food brands had tables at the event as well as food trucks for the dog owners. 

Alicki started the Forever in My Heart Foundation when she decided to donate 100 percent of the sales from her jewelry line – Forever in My Heart – to the cause.

It could cost a disabled veteran up to $18,000 to own a trained service dog. Alicki said the foundation is able to pay for the expenses through fundraising.

“It cost us about $10,000 and upwards to train one dog and we cover all of the expenses as a foundation,” Alicki said. “We are the only organization in Connecticut that donates them for free.”

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