Westwood, NJ Receives AKC Dog-Friendly Community Award

Mayor John Birkner and FDTC Board Member Joe Rivers join club members in a ribbon cutting ceremony opening the new training facility
Photo c FDTC, Used With Permission

The First Dog Training Club of Northern New Jersey (FDTC) presented the American Kennel Club (AKC) Dog Friendly-Community Award to the Borough of Westwood, New Jersey, in an official in a presentation with Mayor John Birkner, Jr., on Sunday, February 5, 2017. 

The presentation was part of a ribbon-cutting ceremony and activities for the public and their dogs to celebrate the grand opening of FDTC’s new facility in Westwood.  

“Opening this new facility represents a big victory for FDTC and for dog lovers in the community.  Before finding this location, the club scoured the area but was unable to find an appropriate location. Even after this location was found, the club had to request a variance from the borough’s zoning laws in order to move in,” said Sheila Goffe, AKC’s Vice President of Government Relations.

"Westwood Mayor John Birkner and the entire zoning board were great,” said Joe Rivers, FDTC Board Member.  “We’re extremely grateful for their support in allowing us to move into our new facility. This new space will allow First Dog Training Club to offer affordable training classes to the community.  One of the major reasons that dogs end up in shelters is due to behavior issues. By providing training to the community we can help dogs become better family pets, and hopefully even keep some out of shelters. "

“We are excited for both FDTC and Westwood, and we expect their partnership will continue to reap enormous benefits for dogs and dog owners throughout the region,” Goffe added.

 "The idea of this award is to recognize the communities for waht they do in working with the canine fancy," said Jeffrey Ball, President, New Jersey Federation of Dog Clubs.  "In this case, the borough of Westwood actually took time to change their zoning laws to allow the club to come into the town  and establish this new facility."  

The public were encouraged to attend the event with their leashed dogs and try the “My Dog Can Do That!” Agility training activity, as well enjoy demonstrations by FDTC members and volunteers of the broad variety of dog trainings that will be offered at the new facility, including obedience, therapy dog, and puppy class training. 

"Today, our 80+ year old club is taking a step into the future," said Lynda Griek, President of the First Dog Training Club of Northern New Jersey.

Check out this video for more information about this exciting event.

Founded in 1935, the First Dog Training Club of Northern New Jersey is one of the oldest not-for-profit dog training clubs in the United States, as well as one of the largest Obedience club members of the American Kennel Club (AKC).  FDTC’s mission is to encourage public interest in all breeds of dogs, demonstrate the value of obedience training for all dogs, and promote responsible dog ownership.

The AKC’s Dog-Friendly Community Award is presented to municipalities throughout the United States that have demonstrated a strong dedication to making a positive, welcoming community for dogs and responsible dog owners. Other communities that had received this award include Ridgewood, New Jersey and Whittier, California.  To learn more about the award, or recommend a community for this award, contact doglaw@akc.org.

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