Karyn Ringhaver discovered her life’s passion when she first became aware of the plight of “investigation dogs.” These dogs have owners who’ve been charged with animal neglect or abuse; the dogs are taken from the owner while the court case is pending and are not available for adoption.
But someone has to care for them and on occasion, such cases continue for years. Hillsborough County Animal Services on Falkenburg Rd. houses the dogs until cases are resolved, and such situations can complicate the primary mission.
“When I learned about these investigation dogs, it broke my heart,” said Ringhaver. “I knew I had to do something to help.”
Jagger Park was built to provide Hillsborough County Animal Services’ investigation dogs with an opportunity to run and play outside of a kennel. Before the park was built, such dogs were kept inside for the majority of the day.
Thanks to the fundraising efforts of Ringhaver – and the generous donations from many people and local companies, the expansive new park opened up in March and was named after her dog, Jagger, who died from cancer.
Jagger Park is the first dog park of its kind.
Beyond design and construction, funds are needed to provide maintenance for Jagger Park as well as to help these dogs with medical issues.
“These (investigation) dogs are here because their owners either abused or neglected them, so almost all of them have medical needs that need to be taken care of,” explained Ringhaver.
Now that the park is built, Ringhaver is focusing on establishing a 501(3) non-profit corporation called “Jagger’s Dream.”
“We plan on doing fundraising events to raise money so we can continue to help sick and injured animals at the shelter,” she said.
SouthShore Gallery in Apollo Beach hosted a recent fundraiser for the ongoing needs for the investigation dogs. Artist Stephanie Grimes donated the proceeds from the sale of her dog paintings (including portraits of some of the dogs that benefited from the park), prints and note cards. Grimes’ pet portrait work can be seen on her Website at www.artist-f.com. Grimes has been touched by these dogs and continues to support “Jagger’s Dream” through her artwork at various charitable events.
“I think the way this idea of paying for shelter animals with health issues got started was there was a employee at the shelter and everyday at lunch she would come back to our ‘sick and injured’ wing to visit a yellow lab, Cookie, who had heartworms,” recalled Ringhaver. “She really loved this dog, but couldn’t afford to take it home because of the cost to treat heartworms.”
Ringhaver says that some of the other needs of the shelter include dog toys, towels, blankets and healthy treats. And, of course, the shelter is always in need of volunteers to interact with the dogs, walk the dogs and clean the kennels.
Those wanting to make a donation to help with the medical expenses and costs of the investigation dogs may mail a check to “Jagger’s Dream” at 6522 Surfside Blvd., Apollo Beach, Fl., 33572.
Those interested in volunteering at Jagger Park, located at Hillsborough County Animal Services at 440 N. Falkenburg Rd., may call Cathy Carr at 625-2829.