News

Cars fill The Park for Pet Prescription Team

By Daniel Hernandez
La Habra Journal

At the Pet Prescription Team’s annual car show on May 31, dogs barked, cars roared and the community, including a young girl with a rare disease, entered into a time warp at the sight of vintage automobiles.

Giving back: Safeco Insurance donated a check for $13,500 to Pet Prescription Team to help the nonprofit organization continue its mission to train pets to become certified therapy dogs.
Giving back: Safeco Insurance donated a check for $13,500 to Pet Prescription Team to help the nonprofit organization continue its mission to train pets to become certified therapy dogs.

The team, in their red shirts with dogs in tow, hosted 107 vehicles at The Park in La Habra Heights during its fifth annual car show, which included barbecued burgers, discussions of old cars and plenty of lounging in shaded spots under trees. The event raised funds for the Pet Prescription Team, the La Habra Heights-based nonprofit group geared toward “touching people’s lives through pets.”
“I think everybody loves dogs,” car show collaborator and Pet Prescription Team member Phil Emery said about the large gathering to support the non-profit organization, which eases the tensions of the sick.
Isabella Apodaca, the young girl smiling ear to ear at the car show, was diagnosed at 6 with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer. At the event, she reunited with Bella, a Pet Prescription Team dog who visited her at the hospital over the course of the last year.

“The little girl has the heart of a fighter,” Pet Prescription Team volunteer Judy Caron said. “She has “an incredible, feisty spirit.”
People at the car show cheered for Apodaca when Krystal Emery described her cancer battle, and the girl did not shy away from attention as a crowd of people gathered to capture her photo.
Like the dogs of the Pet Prescription Team, the car show provided her with an escape from the real world.
The event is organized to raise funds for the Pet Prescription Team’s cause to help train family pets to be therapy animals.   The Team started 12 years ago through the mind of Emery’s wife, Krystal Emery, who found that dogs could lighten the lives of patients who desperately needed comfort.

Photo time: Claire Spothelfer, ex La Habra Heights mayor, and husband Paul Spothelfer group together with Phil Emery, car show organizer, in front of a 1953 Ford Police Interceptor, which was donated by CAP volunteers and Dorothy Dean Jackson. Paul and Claire helped build the gazebo at The Park in the 1980’s, which held its first concert in the park in 1989, according to Spothelfer.
Photo time: Claire Spothelfer, ex La Habra Heights mayor, and husband Paul Spothelfer group together with Phil Emery, car show organizer, in front of a 1953 Ford Police Interceptor, which was donated by CAP volunteers and Dorothy Dean Jackson. Paul and Claire helped build the gazebo at The Park in the 1980’s, which held its first concert in the park in 1989, according to Spothelfer.

Events like the car show provide the non-profit with funds to keep the organization going.
Emery stated that money from the event will be used to perk up the non-profit’s ability to help people, buying things like stuffed puppies and special books.
Along with funds raised from the car show, Safeco Insurance presented a $13,500 check to the dog-loving organization in reward for a 21-day online contest. The Pet Prescription Team garnered more votes than 30 other non-profits, including major groups like Habitat for Humanity.
Emery touts social networking and the organization’s online presence as a major factor in the group’s success in the contest. He also is quick to point out that communities love dogs, also a reason for the big gathering at the car show.
La Habra Heights Councilman Roy Francis and wife Judy at the gathering sported their 1928, dark red, all-steel Ford Sedan Delivery — a car with 47 years of restoration behind it. Francis bought the vehicle in pieces before he left to fight the war in Vietnam in 1966.
Last year the ex-mayor won the best of show award at this event.
Other automobile enthusiasts with leashes attached to their dogs hid from the sun, read books and made sure their vintage prized possessions were flawless for people to admire.
Jim Ellis, a Whittier resident and “a guy who likes cars,” polished his 1964 Sport Fury to make sure all the blemishes were touched up. This is Ellis’ fourth year coming to the event.
Bob Harrison, a 12-year La Habra Heights resident, scoured pages in a book he was studying with his dog Jake, who rested his snout on the grass next to his deep red 1933 Chevy.
“It’s just an old little hot rod,” Harrison, who has attended every one of these events at The Park, said about the car that he bought restored some years ago.

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.