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Aspinwall benefit walk called off

| Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

A 5K walk to benefit the Aspinwall Volunteer Fire Department scheduled for Sept. 7 has been canceled because of low registration.

Specifically, the “Firehouse Dash Through the Wall” was to support the department's trained dog. Dog handler Barb Double said she is disappointed but hopes to try again next year.

“We just didn't get enough registrations,” said Double, a firefighter who lobbied last year to bring a dog to the squad.

Gage, a 3-year-old Dutch shepherd, was purchased in spring 2012 with help from a $9,050 grant through Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala's office.

“The expenses would've been too great to support a race where there's only a few people,” Double said.

Double, a six-year veteran of the department, said it costs a couple of thousand dollars each year to maintain a dog search-and-rescue program.

But the costs are worth it, she said. Double said Gage works not only to protect the residents of Aspinwall but can be used throughout the county. Gage is trained in human-remains detection and water recovery.

Fire Chief Gene Marsico said ongoing training is one of the costs that he hoped to support through the 5K.

“There's expenses for dog food and vet bills too,” he said. “There just wasn't enough participation to justify it.”

Marsico said coordinating a walk through town takes a lot of effort on behalf of not only the fire department but municipal and county officials. This event was supposed to begin and end on Commercial Avenue and loop around several borough streets.

“It takes a lot to put something like this on,” he said.

“You have to block streets and reroute traffic.”

He would like to see the walk happen at some point. In the meantime, Marsico said, the fire department holds lotteries twice each year to benefit Gage and his expenses.

“Maybe we'll try the walk again next year. The dog's gotta eat,” he said.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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