Story and photo by Susan Mikula Campbell
Wheatfield residents Jesse Gooch and Kevin Garlock didn't have a bottle of champagne to christen the new recycled rubber path at the Niagara County SPCA on Tuesday. However, a rescued 4-month-old pit bull puppy happily did the honors.
The two men were instrumental in the installation of the 60-foot-by-4-foot path, which leads to the two fenced play yards where potential new owners can get to know prospective pets, plus the 10-foot-by-8-foot pads just inside the gates to the yards.
Gooch, the owner of Painters Plus in North Tonawanda, started Goochfest as a backyard party in 1995. It has grown into a huge fundraiser with live bands held annually at Wheatfield's Five Senses Nature Park. Proceeds go to a different charity every year.
Gooch held an online poll on Facebook to help determine where to spend the money from this year's July 7 Goochfest and found there was overwhelming support for the SPCA.
"With all that they have been through this year, I feel it was the right choice for the charity this year," Gooch said.
Instead of just handing over cash, Gooch was asked if he could pick a project to do at the Lockport Road SPCA facility in Wheatfield.
The path leading to the back yard play yards became muddy and sloppy in bad weather, plus presented a danger of tripping or slipping. When the SPCA asked about the possibility of a rubber dog path, Gooch thought of longtime friend Kevin Garlock, owner of Custom Curb Appeal of NY, who uses a recycled tire product to provide a durable rubber surface for places such as driveways, playgrounds, porches, basement floors and pool decks.
"Thanks to all of the community help and Kevin's service, my goal was accomplished," Gooch said, noting that the value of the dog path was about $4,000. "I am glad that this one-day event changed the way of life for the people and animals at the shelter forever."
Lauren Zaninovich, lobby supervisor/dispatch for the SPCA, and the puppy she brought out to play in the yard agreed.
"It's a lot easier for handling when the dogs are coming out in the play yards, and it's a lot safer," she said.
On the new path leading to the Niagara County SPCA play yards are, from left, Wheatfield residents Jesse Gooch, owner of Painters Plus in North Tonawanda, and Kevin Garlock, owner of Custom Curb Appeal of NY in Wheatfield, with Lauren Zaninovich of the Town of Niagara, SPCA lobby supervisor and dispatch, holding a rescued pit bull puppy.