Heavensent In The Courier Post!

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"Bulldog Rescue from Heaven" By Kevin Callahan

Amy Stein of Swedesbro with Cooper at BullyFest at the Holly Creek Kennel in Marlton.(Photo by Kevin Callahan)

On a recent fall Sunday, everyone was happy at Octo-Bull-Fest: The Eagles were winning and the bulldog show was going just fine.

Amy Stein of Swedesboro
wore an Eagles jacket on this
sunny day with just a touch of fall chill in the air. Stein was not worrying about the Eagles score.

“I had a ticket to the Eagles,” Stein said, “But my husband (Frank) took a friend so I could be here.”

Stein is a volunteer for HeavenSent Bulldog Rescue, which is a volunteer group of bulldog enthusiasts whose mission is to re-home bulldogs who are surrendered by their owners or find themselves otherwise without homes.

Often, these dogs land in animal shelters or wander the streets as strays.

On this Sunday, HeavenSent sponsored a dog show in Marlton at Holly Creek Kennels to help raise money for surrendered bulldogs.

“This is worth it,” Stein said about passing on the Eagles win, “It is for charity.”

“I look forward to these events,” volunteer and Gibbstown resident Eileen Moore said. “You meet a lot of bulldog owners.”

It was also refreshing to be outdoors.

“The fall weather is so beautiful to be outside,” Kara Gordon, who runs the event, said. “The bulldogs like the weather and so do we.”

More than 200 people showed up to spend time with the dogs and enjoy the weather.

Marcello Guzman and Claudio Catellanos drove three hours from Fairfax, Va., to attend the event with Big Red, their 63-pound 2-year-old bulldog.

“You get to meet friends and I wanted to show my big boy,” Guzman said.

This was Big Red’s first show. He took a third-place ribbon in the adult category.

“We enjoy the bulldogs and we enjoy the activity with the other owners,” Catellanos said.

Volunteers like Gordon provide foster homes, veterinary care and rehabilitation for these needy dogs. Their ultimate goal is to finding them “forever homes,” or matching them with permanent owners.

While HeavenSent places rescued bulldogs primarily with families in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, bulldogs from the surrounding areas are rescued as well.

In 2007, HeavenSent rescued and found forever homes for more than 70 bulldogs.

Annise McManus of Palmyra and her stepdaughter, Chelsea, wore bulldog T-shirts in addition to showing off 2-year-old Huey.

Chelsea, 13, is learning to be a bulldog handler at shows. She already knows how to handle boxers.

“Everyone loves Huey,” Chelsea said. “Who doesn’t love Huey?”

ZuZu really loves Huey. The 1-year-old bulldog met Huey in the spring when her owner, Liz Buer of Cherry Hill, brought her to BullyFest, which is the springtime bulldog show.

“It is fun to enjoy the nice weather before winter,” Buer, 24, said while explaining her reasons for attending the shows.

Kara Gordon, who wore a “Don’t Stop Bul-lieving” T-shirt, runs the event. Her husband, Barry, helps.

They started the BullyFest five years ago, and Octo-Bull-Fest was their first fall event. It was originally scheduled for Saturday, but the rain pushed it to Sunday — the same time the Eagles played the Falcons.

“I was worried about the Eagles,” Kara said.

She is more worried about the dogs, though.

HeavenSent is not a shelter facility. Foster care for bulldogs in transition is provided in the private homes of HeavenSent’s volunteers, who receive no compensation for their time.

Many volunteers spend their own money to provide toys, treats, food, beds and grooming for the dogs.

“We just love the dog (breed) and they really need help,” Kara, a lawyer, said. “They are so popular that people keep getting them but don’t take care of them.”

Elisabeth Cleveland of Medford walked her 4-year-old male dog, Regan, at the show.

“It is nice, it is fun for all the bulldogs,” Cleveland, the owner of Mobile Dog Groomer, said. “It is good for the dogs to socialize with all the other dogs.”

Terry Starzinski of Shamong brought her 6-month old female, Lulu.

“She is a real Georgia bulldog, born and bred,” Starzinski said.

Many of the dog owners communicate on the Internet.

“We all talk to each other on Web sites and Facebook,” Brian Binkley, 33, of Pine Hill, said while holding his 3-year-old Butch. “So, we all want to see each other.”

And, despite not seeing the Eagles, they still knew what was happening at the Eagles game.

“They are on the 3-yard line,” Max Gordon told his dad, Barry, late in the show.

“This was a good success,” Kara said, “The weather was so nice. I think we will do it every fall.”

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