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New ‘Deputy Dogs’ program to be launched at Festi-Bell

By Staff | Apr 11, 2019

Festi-Bell, a free family-friendly event, set for Saturday will serve as the kickoff for Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno’s Deputy Dogs program, an initiative to get the community engaged in their neighborhoods.

Festi-Bell will take place Saturday, April 13, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., at Bell Tower, 13499 S. Cleveland Ave. in Fort Myers.

“It’s going to be so much fun,” Lee County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Caitlyn Mumma said.

The Deputy Dogs program is a voluntary neighborhood watch initiative, which encourages residents of Lee County to be observant of their surroundings when they are doing such regular activities as walking their dog.

“When you walk your dog, keep your eyes wandering and be observant of your surroundings. If you see something not right, let us know,” she said.

Deputy Chance, an American cur mix, who was found abandoned in Lehigh Acres on Feb. 26 bleeding and dehydrated with his muzzle taped shut, will make his first public appearance during the festival to kick off the Deputy Dogs program.

Mumma said Domestic Animal Services responded to the call and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office received the case due to it being a felony of how the dog was found.

“We fell in love with him and adopted him,” she said of the Sheriff’s Office. “He is ours now. He goes home with one of our K9 trainers and receives the best attention. He comes into the Sheriff’s Office every day.”

Chance went through many medical treatments before slowly becoming acclimated to a family lifestyle, which had to be done before he received any kind of training. Mumma said he will learn to sit, stay and walk, along with other obedient training skills.

“He is more of a Deputy Dog face to the program to encourage Lee County that you can go out and do your own crime fighting efforts in your own neighborhood,” she said.

Chance’s appearance will be made from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. near the entrance of Grimaldi’s and Society for a meet-and- greet and photo opportunities. He will be joined by canine ambassador Lt. Bosco.

There will be a station set up during the Festi-Bell event for those interested in registering themselves and their pet to be a part of the Deputy Dog program from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Once their pet is registered, Mumma said they will receive safety tips on how to implement the new program in their neighborhood.

Either today, or before the event, a Deputy Dog website will be launched creating a interactive community service engagement platform where individuals can share how their neighborhood watch is going. She said once an individual is part of the program they can send an email saying everything is OK, along with a picture.

For those who cannot make the Saturday event, they can register their dog on the website.

In addition the event will also feature such local musicians and entertainers as The Island Doctor, Brian Markley, Nostaljah Band, DJ Robert McDonald and balloon artist and stilt walker Way Too Tall Torrie throughout the mall at various times.

Children will also have the opportunity to meet Henry, the dairy cow of Southern Fresh Farms near World of Beer. Mini ponies Misty and Majik, as well as their Arabian friend, Jules, will be brought by Endless Trails Stables for the children to ride.

Other activities will include kids crafts, complimentary face painting, a bounce house, photo booth and beer specials for adults.

The festival will also celebrate Bell Tower’s milestone of its year-long redevelopment, which modernized the 343,000 square foot space with updated architecture, redesigned storefronts, fresh paint and contemporary lighting.