YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — Terri Heck of Summit Search and Rescue k-9 knows firsthand how important working dogs like her bloodhounds Briggs and Stratton can be.
“We get at this point between 75 and 90 calls a year,” she says. So when Rob Lauver asked her to serve on a committee to create a memorial to Pennsylvania’s working dogs, she jumped aboard. She’s now president of the Pennsylvania State Working Animal Foundation or PSWAF.
Lauver has been dealing with animals for a long time. “I had the first doggy daycare in the country, started in 1985, and we ran that until 2017,” he says. He also built the Pennsylvania Pet Memorial in 2003 to memorialize companion animals. Then, he says, “I started thinking about why isn’t there a place that memorializes, and tells the story about working animals.”
It started as the working dog memorial. Heck and Lauver soon realized they should cast a wider net.
“When we put our board together,” says Lauver, “They told me ‘Rob, you do realize there are a lot of other working animals besides canines that are doing public service.’ So we decided to just rename it the Pennsylvania working animal memorial.”
“A lot of people don’t know the wonderful things that dogs, some horses, some cats, and other animals do for us from a working perspective,” adds Heck.
“So it would include horses,” says Lauver, “Mounted police, therapy horses, search and rescue, service animals, so we could give recognition to all the animals”
Like many other projects, they’re experiencing Covid delays. “We have trouble getting granite now because they’re still shut down with covid in other countries,” explains Lauver. There’s not much to see just yet, just the signs and some turned earth. But things are ramping up.
“Before the end of the year we’ll put the foundations and everything in here,” says Lauver. “My goal is I’m shooting for the end of 2022.””
There is one important caveat.
“Now there some things that we want to make people aware of, there are a lot of people who think they have therapy dogs. What we are honoring here are animals who are actually certified to do these things. A lot of people have therapy animals, it might be for them, but we’re talking about animals that actually go out and do public service”
Other than that-
“Any working animal in the state of Pennsylvania can be memorialized here.” Says Lauver.