Something to bark about: ‘All Dogs Go to Heaven’ bike run

Screen-capture image shot by FOX 17's Candese Charles

MUSKEGON, Mich. — About 30 dogs died in a fire at a boarding kennel in Fruitport Township on March 30. A couple weeks later, a community memorial service was held at the Clock Life Funeral Home in Muskegon County.

Now, organizers of an event called the “All Dogs Go to Heaven Run”  are trying to raise funds in memory of the dogs that perished at Storms Ahead Kennels on that fateful Good Friday.

Bryan Mathis, owner of the 46 Bar on East Apple Avenue near downtown Muskegon, tells FOX 17,

“It’s real special to me, because homeowners and dog owners lost one of their loved ones in a tragic fire. They took their loved one – the dog – to a kennel that is well-known for keeping dogs while you’re on vacation or visiting. A tragedy happened, and they feel bad. So, now we’re trying to raise money to help rebuild, to get it back to the place it was.”

Kick Stands were going up at 11:30 a.m., with the motorcycle ride heading to JD’s Moorland Tavern on Apple Avenue in Ravenna, then over to the Effin Bar & Grill on Holton Road in Twin Lake from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., followed by a stop at the Full Moon Diner & Saloon on Whitehall Road in Muskegon from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., before heading back to the Full Moon, and then over to Pat’s Roadhouse on Getty Street in Muskegon around 4:30 p.m. The event was being capped off with a 6 p.m. dinner at the Watermark 920 conference center on Washington Avenue, in downtown Muskegon.

Event organizer Rick Flater tells FOX 17, “I didn’t know the people (affected by the fire), per se. I live around the corner from where the kennel was on Mount Garfield Avenue, off Maple Island Road.  We found out the kennel was fully insured; so with the funds, we’ll be putting a monument up at the Muskegon Bark Park by the Heritage Landing.

From Facebook page: “All Dogs Go to Heaven Run”.

“One of the dogs that died in the fire was shown in the back of a police cruiser, before the fire. It looked identical to the dog I once had. So, I put something up on Facebook about organizing a fundraiser, and it blew right up.”

Plater says organizers expected more than 100 motorcycle riders to participate. A memorial sign and bench with the names of dogs will be placed in the dog park, with the remainder of the fundraiser proceeds to be evenly split, with 50 percent paying for bark-park upgrades, and the other 50 percent going to Pound Babies Animal Shelter & Adoption Center, a so-called “no-kill” shelter, wherein no euthanasia is done – but instead, homes are found for the animals. The nonprofit oranization is located at 1300 E. Keating Avenue in Muskegon.

Plater says the free memorial monument was donated by Mike Wood, with Wrought Iron Express in Muskegon.

“I’d like to make a big thank you to Melody Murphy, my fiancee, for helping to make this event happen,” says Plater. “She put a lot of effort into it.”

He also thanked co-organizers Dennis Riley and Sherry Francis.

Kennel owner Janet Rehfus said at the April memorial after the fire,  “I hold each dog in my heart. I’m so thankful for all of you; so very thankful.”

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