Buzzard Billy’s pairs with dog sitting center to raise money for service dogs for veterans

PAW PALS | A furry Baylor fan attended the Dogtopia event to support the service dogs for Veteran’s Day. Photo credit: Claire Boston

In an effort to raise $6,000 by Veteran’s Day, dogs of all ages belonging to Buzzard Billy’s customers gathered Sunday at the cajun and American fare eatery. They enjoyed a plethora of dog treats while mingling with one another.

The fundraiser was put on by Dogtopia, a dog-sitting franchise with over 70 locations dispersed across the country, according to their website. Their charity, the Dogtopia Foundation, made a goal of raising $6,000 per location by Veterans Day on Nov. 11. The money raised by each location will be used to sponsor a puppy in training for America’s Vetdogs, an organization that pairs service dogs with veterans at no cost.

“We’re having so much fun, we might not wait until next year,” said Kim Nichols, co-owner of Dogtopia of Waco, in regards to holding another fundraising event soon.

As family and friends gathered at the event, dogs of all kinds mingled and searched their surroundings. Some dogs were actively playing with their new friends while others snacked on the frozen treats they had gotten.

Among the festivities was a raffle with a $427 value, a spin-to-win wheel, doggy treat bar and a professional photographer. A dog trainer was there to give owners any needed advice on how to handle their furry friends.

Diane Nowlain, the managing owner at Buzzard Billy’s, has her own dog, Sophie, that attended Dogtopia. Nowlain said she thought the event represented a fantastic cause, and she wanted to help out. She talked about the variety of the raffle prizes, with many local restaurants donating gift cards to the cause; even the Hippodrome gave away tickets to contribute.

The spin-to-win wheel, which costed $2 to spin, consisted of many prizes for attendees. One of the specific prizes that stood out to her was flavored bubbles.

“They got bacon bubbles, so they throw out bubbles, and they smell like bacon, so all the dogs try to bite them,” Nowlain said.

Service dogs are hugely beneficial for veterans, and they can really help returning soldiers coming back home, according to America’s VetDogs’ website.

“The service dog programs of America’s VetDogs were created to provide enhanced mobility and renewed independence to veterans, active-duty service members and first responders with disabilities, allowing them to once again live with pride and self-reliance,” their website says. “Not only does a service dog provide support with daily activities, it provides the motivation to tackle every day challenges.”