Howling and playing catch are not uncommon sights at Memory Mall, but this Sunday you'll see carefree canines instead of excited Knights fans.
Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit organization that provides assistance dogs to people with disabilities, is holding its first DogFest Walk 'n Roll event on campus on Nov. 9 from noon to 4 p.m.
"This is a general event open to the public. It's free so anyone can come out, bring [their] own dog and just come out and enjoy themselves; and there's going to be different vendors and booths with different activities for people and their dogs to engage in," said Daniel Kleiman, Animal Awareness Director at Volunteer UCF.
There are some rules, though: dogs must be kept on a leash of no longer than six feet, no female dogs in heat are allowed and dogs must be social and friendly with other dogs and people. More rules are highlighted on the DogFest event information page.
"We have a goal we're trying to reach of $60,500 for this walk to benefit our people here in Orlando, to provide dogs and the training of the dogs for people with disabilities," said Linda Feld, volunteer coordinator of DogFest.
The event has raised $55,332 so far, and anyone who is looking to help support the mission can donate at the Orlando DogFest webpage.
This cause is close to Feld's heart because she herself is the recipient of a service dog.
"I have had Keith since 2012 and he has helped me gain so much more independence and has been such a good friend. He knows 43 commands he is able to help me with, and these are just a wide variety of things like opening doors, running elevators, moving things from the washer to the dryer, things like that," Feld said.
The community dog walk will begin about an hour into the event.
"There's going to be a community dog walk happening, which is going to start around 1:15 [p.m.] and it's going to last about an hour. They mapped out a route around campus and the start and finish line will be at Memory Mall," Kleiman said.