Tonawanda News

June 1, 2013

SPCA hike to honor local hound owner

By Rick Pfeiffer
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The haunting images leapt off the front page of the Gazette on Feb. 16, 2012.

The pictures showed Falls firefighters desperately trying to rescue a 70-year-old man who had fallen through the ice on Hyde Park Lake. 

Pascal “Pat” Scrufari had run out onto the ice after one of his three golden retrievers. Scrufari had been walking his dogs in the park, when one of them bolted on to the frozen surface of the lake and then crashed through the ice into the freezing water.

Despite the firefighters’ heroic efforts, Scrufari drowned while trying to rescue his pet. 

Many in the community took note of the sad image of Scrufari’s dogs, standing near the deadly hole in the ice-covered lake, one of them holding his owner’s glove in his mouth. The dogs were taken by the SPCA of Niagara and the organization began searching for a home for all three of them.

The dogs, Zach, Sheeba and Chole, found a new home, when one of the firefighters who had tried to rescue their owner, came forward and adopted them. Firefighter Frank Cacciatore, and his family, made room for the orphaned dogs with their own golden retriever, Lucky

Now, in memory of Scrufari, and to honor folks who love their pets, the SPCA of Niagara will hold a “Hound Hike” dog walk today in Hyde Park. Cacciatore, along with his family and their four golden retrievers, will lead the walk.

“It was such a sad story,” SPCA of Niagara Shelter Director Amy Lewis said. “I remember seeing that really painful picture in the Gazette of the dog holding the glove and we just thought this would be a nice, and fitting tribute, to Mr. Scrufari.”

The walk will be one and a half miles and all dogs and their owners are welcome. It begins at 11 a.m., with registration available prior to that time.

Before the walk, the SPCA will honor Cacciatore for his involvement in the attempt to rescue Scrufari and for adopting his dogs.

“Taking on three dogs, that’s an incredible responsibility,” Lewis said. “And we just wanted to express our appreciation for that.”

The shelter will also recognize and honor what they call the “animal heroes” who rescued a pitbull puppy named Gladys from a trash can in an ally off of 30th Street. Two employees of Modern Disposal found the severely injured dog as they were making their rounds on April 24. 

Like Scrufari’s dogs, Gladys, now healed from her injuries, will also be taking part in the walk.