‘Pooch Plunge’ benefits SPCA animal shelter

Mark Weinkiper and Leilah, a German shepherd and border collie, get ready to race the length of the Veterans Park pool Saturday at the seventh annual Pooch Plunge fundraiser. The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff

AMSTERDAM — The dogs that participated in the seventh annual Pooch Plunge Saturday at the Veterans Park pool must have slept well that night.

They seemed to be having nonstop activity and fun, racing and cavorting, diving into the pool as their owners tossed balls and toys to fetch.

“The dogs are flying in the pool,” said Jan Zumbolo, president of the Montgomery County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which ran the fundraising event.

Mark Weinkiper of Amsterdam repeatedly was racing the length of the pool with Leilah, a German shepherd/border collie, that he said is very competitive. “She wants to win every time,” he said.

His wife, Kayla, said, “We come every year, and she has a blast.”

“I wish they did this once a year.”

The Weinkipers were so enamored of the event that they came on their sixth wedding anniversary.

The Pooch Plunge is a fundraiser for the SPCA to help the organization care for homeless, abused or neglected animals and find homes for them.

“It’s a good turnout,” said Darlene Rogers, chairwoman of the program. Last year, 70 dogs came, which garnered $1,300 for the shelter. After an hour and a half Saturday, 60 canines were there, she said. The owners pay $10 admission for each dog and may make donations and participate in raffles.

Kelly Albert of Gloversville brought her Siberian husky because she likes to support the SPCA and her dog enjoys the program. “He’s very sociable so we take him every year,” she said.

Tammy Bailey of Cohoes and Anne Osborne of Schenectady both brought their chocolate Labradors because they love the water.

“Our dog loves the water and likes other dogs and other people,” Bailey said.

Carol Matale of Amsterdam didn’t bring a dog but said, “Every year I come to watch.”

“I just love watching them playing around, running around,” she said. “Some of them are good at retrieving. It’s good for their socialization.”

LaVilla Dog Works and Harvey’s Home and Garden Center, both of Johnstown, aided the SPCA in sponsoring the program.

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