Paws for a Cause

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“During [the K-9 Gala] I actually had a lot of people coming up and asking me to do other stuff for them like commissions, or paint for them and then they will pay me directly. It made me feel professional,” McDonald said about her experience painting at the Gala and the opportunities that have opened up for her. (Photo/Theodore Rackauskas/WAHS News)

Who usually comes to mind when you think of those who keep us safe throughout our everyday lives? Police and medics are suitable answers. But, what about their furry “sidekicks” they train to track criminals, detect substances, and maintain order in our society: police dogs. After these dogs retire from their days in action the officer who has trained and served with them during their time on the force usually adopts them. However, in most cases, when these police dogs retire and begin to get sick, it becomes harder for their owner to pay for their companions’ medical bills.

When Ms. Nikki Laurie, Pre-Law and Law Internship Honors teacher, and her son Jackson Laurie, a fifth grade student at Heritage, heard of this dilemma from VCA Hollywood Animal Hospital, they were immediately interested in solving this problem. This led them to come up with the idea for the K-9 Project and Gala.

“[Jackson] has a huge passion for art, and he has a huge passion for animals, so we decided to collaborate and come up with a fundraiser to raise money through original works of art for dogs,” Ms. Laurie said.

Jackson Laurie (front) stood with his father Dr. Laurie onlooking the Gala. (Photo/Theodore Rackauskas/WAHS News)

Ms. Laurie was able to bring this project to American Heritage, since she represents American Heritage School on the Executive Board of The Sheriffs Foundation of Broward County.

“100% of the proceeds from this event go towards the funding that will pay for 50% of whatever health care needs these dogs will have when they are retired; whether it be medication, hospitalization or surgeries,” Ms. Laurie said.

This year was the second Annual K-9 Gala. The Gala took place April 6 in the Black Box Theater accompanied by refreshments and h’orderves. The actual process and putting together of the gala included many people such as art students and Pre-Law students. The art students created various artworks throughout the year (usually dog-themed) as well as prints they presented at the gala. The art students submitted about 120  pieces of artwork for this year’s gala. Along with this, junior Sarah McDonald painted a picture during the actual gala that the buyers bidded for later, ending with $625 as the final bid.

Winning “Best in Show” and “Best Painter/Drawer” with her piece titled “Zen” McDonald walked away with a prize of $1500. (Photo/Theodore Rackauskas/WAHS News)

The Pre Law Society helped to advertise the event to potential art buyers as well as selling the tickets to the public. They also volunteered at the actual Gala selling and handling the art pieces.

Last year, the K-9 Gala raised about $32,000. This year, the goal was to reach $50,000. Ms. Laurie had already raised $28,000 in donations from the gala’s contributing donors such as Lipton Toyota of Fort Lauderdale, BrandsMart U.S.A. and inWESTON Magazine. After the selling of the artwork and final auction along with the sponsor donations, their total amount raised was about $37,000.

“This is a great cause for a great organization, everyone loves dogs and I just can’t think of a better way to give back,” Ms. Laurie said.

Madison Lynn is a senior at American Heritage School in Plantation, Fla. This is her second year on staff and she is so excited for the many amazing things to come for this school year for the Patriot Post. Madison is also a member of TASSEL and Best Buddies club. She has a passion for photography and loves all type of music.

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