Utica’s Puppy Parade to return for another canine celebration

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby-Utica News | Published April 4, 2023

 The Utica Puppy Parade’s special guest this year will be Blu, a 2-year-old dog in the care of Saving Destiny Animal Rescue.

The Utica Puppy Parade’s special guest this year will be Blu, a 2-year-old dog in the care of Saving Destiny Animal Rescue.

Photo provided by Sabrina Stinson


UTICA — Utica’s annual Puppy Parade will return at 2 p.m. April 29 with an even bigger event this year.

April is national Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, and Utica is celebrating with a puppy parade once again. Pets of all ages are welcome.

The parade will begin at Grant Park and end at the Pioneer Park Dog Park with an escort from Utica fire and police vehicles. The parade will end at Pioneer Park, where attendees will be able to visit rescue and vendor tents. There will also be some brief speeches from folks involved in advocacy for animal protection.

Pops Sweets on the Streets food truck will also be in attendance with fun foods available.

The tradition each year is to have a special guest, and this guest is not a human, but a dog. Last year’s special guest was Sweet Betty Rose, who is in the care of the Detroit Pit Crew Dog Rescue. She had suffered abuse that resulted in the loss of an eye and severe burns to much of her body.

The year before, the special guests were Finn and Nugget, who were dogs who suffered abuse and were adopted by two Utica police officers.

This year’s special guest will be Blu, a 2-year-old dog in the care of Saving Destiny Animal Rescue.

Utica Mayor Gus Calandrino said the whole purpose of the Utica Puppy Parade is to bring attention to animal welfare advocacy.

“The Puppy Parade is a positive, family event that celebrates those who work hard to protect the vulnerable and act as a voice for the voiceless. I’m so pleased that the Utica Puppy Parade has grown each year. This year, we have 20 organizations participating. My goal is to make this a major gathering for animal rescue and advocacy groups,” he said in an email.

Sabrina Stinson, of Saving Destiny Rescue, said that Blu was found dumped on the side of the road in deplorable condition.

“His pelvis was broken, he had spinal cord damage, both of his hips were dislocated, just to list a few. The worst part is he had been like this for a while. Though neither of his legs were in place as they should be, there was so much scar tissue, this held them in the position they were in with zero movement,” she said in an email interview.

She said his back legs bent backward. So instead of walking on his paw pads as a dog should, he walked on the tops of his paws.

“They resembled two skinny little crutches he would balance on. He had done so for so long; the top of his paws had worn down to the muscle and bone. Because his legs (were) hyperextended with no give, he would have to tuck his butt under his body in order to lay down. This caused a severe hump in his back/spine. At just 9 months old, he had gone through an indescribable amount of pain. Yet he was still the happiest guy,” she said.

She said mentally, his situation didn’t limit him. Physically, his condition only worsened. As he used his legs as a crutch, they began to bend more and more backward.

“To the point that if any other dog were to try to play and jump on his back or anyone were to put any weight on his back for any reason, his legs would likely break. His spine continued to bend and arthritis continued to worsen. After speaking with different vets, the determination was made that double amputation would give him the best quality of life. Because of the severity of the damage, vets removed one leg at a time. His surgeries went well, though after the second surgery, Blu ended up hospitalized due to a staph infection. He spent some time away from us, stealing the hearts of the vet staff. Finally, Blu was able to come home,” said Stinson.

As Blu was already used to relying on his front legs solely to get around, he adjusted quickly. Blu’s back arch is now gone, Stinson said. Now that he can lay down flat without his legs curled under him, his spine can relax and stretch out as it should, she said. He can now play with other dogs. Though he does have wheels for hikes and walks, he gets around well on his front legs. He can do flights of stairs and run around the house freely. Stinson said the only thing that limits him is people doubting his ability.

For more information on the event, call (586) 739-2867.


Organizations scheduled to attend the 2023 Utica Puppy Parade:

• All in the Family Creations LLC.

• Angela’s Treat Stash LLC.

• Dachshund Haus Rescue.

• Detroit Dog Mom Co.

• Detroit Pit Crew Dog Rescue.

• Dogtopia of Utica.

• Great Lakes Boxer Rescue.

• Humane Society of Macomb.

• The Karens Rescue.

• Laws For Paws.

• Macomb County Animal Control.

• Magoos Pet Outlet.

• Making Miracles Animal Rescue.

• My Pet Leash Sleeves.

• Peace Love and Paws Rescue.

• Planet Paws Pet Care.

• A ReJoyceful Animal Rescue.

• Saving Destiny Animal Rescue.

• Sew Cute by Joyce.

• Wolf Pack Dog Training LLC.