Top Dog Family Event at Havenhurst Park June 23

New Haven K-9 Unit dogs will demonstrate their skills beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday at Havenhurst Park in New Haven. Demonstrations will include detecting narcotics, locating hidden articles, tracking, aggression control and obedience. Money from the fundraiser will be used to purchase a new dog to replace the one that retired last fall. (Rod King)

Rod King

NEW HAVEN — New Haven Pet Hospital will again sponsor the Next Top Dog fundraising event Sunday, June 23, at the pavilion at Havenhurst Park. The fun, which includes live K-9 demonstrations, dunk tank, food trucks, a silent auction and games for the family, starts at 1 p.m.

Goal of this year’s event, according to chairperson Tanith Jones, is to raise $6,500 for the purchase of a new K-9 to replace 8-year-old Henry who retired from the New Haven Police Department K-9 unit last fall. They are hoping to buy a German shepherd or a Belgian malinois.

Last year, the first such fundraiser, raised more than $5,000 to buy Hot & Pop dog safety systems for the K-9 unit’s cars. The equipment prevents the dog from overheating when the officer is outside the vehicle and includes a door release button worn by the officers that when activated will open the car door and let the dog out to assist the officer. It also has an end-of-shift alarm so that a dog won’t be forgotten and left in the car.

At 1:30 p.m. Sgt. Brent Bolinger of the New Haven Police Department’s K-9 Unit will conduct a demonstration showing the dog’s obedience, tracking skills, locating narcotics, searching and finding an article hidden in the grass. In addition, they will go through an aggression control exercise with an officer in a “bite suit.” At the conclusion the dogs will be on hand for a meet and greet session and photo opportunities.

The dunk tank, which will feature New Haven Police Chief Henry McKinnon, will be in action all afternoon. Others to take the dunk tank seat include New Haven Pet Hospital doctors Ed McKaig, Beth Patrick, Kyle Krish, Gina Eisenhauer and Jenna Fausett.

Carnival type games will include ring toss, duck pond, Frisbee toss and the high striker which involves attempting to ring the bell by hitting the lever with a hammer that sends a ringer up to the bell. In addition, eventgoers can participate in a punch board for the chance to win two $20 Dairy Queen coupons.

Activities for youngsters include face painting and constructing hand puppets and masks. Kasey the Cash Cow from K105 Radio will be on hand with some give-aways, while the station broadcasts from the event. A raffle drawing will be held at 3 p.m.

More than 70 items ranging from a corn hole board, Rack & Helen’s food basket and photo sessions to Tupper Ware, homemade items from the doctors and a suite at a TinCaps game with 20 game tickets and four parking passes will be included in the silent auction. Participants can make their bid starting at 1 p.m. until 3:30 p.m.

Three food trucks, including the New Haven Smokehaus BBQ, will be at the park. Alto Grado will be making wood-fired pizza and Whip & Chill will have soft-serve ice cream and shaved ice.

Jones said the Pet Hospital received overwhelming response after last year’s event and is pleased to be able to support the K-9 unit which is largely funded by outside donations.

“It’s also an opportunity for us to give back to the community. By the way,” she added, “the Next Top Dog event is a dog-friendly activity and people are welcome to bring their pets.”