Photo by: Brenden Cowan
Niagara Falls had a new, honorary mayor for a weekend—and it’s probably not someone you’d expect.
On Friday, March 24, a ceremony was held at which Niagara Falls’ usual mayor Jim Diodati deputized Pal, a German Shepherd, to take his place for the weekend.
Pal, who is one-and-a-half years old, is already quite popular within the area. His owner, Mike Lalicich, has nearly 700,000 followers across his social media platforms, including over 70,000 from the Instagram account he uses to regularly showcase his pup.
Pal was made mayor to support a local fundraiser led by the David Gregory MacKinnon Memorial Foundation, who hopes to raise $25,000 by the end of March to purchase a portable ultrasound for the Niagara Falls Kidney Clinic.
The foundation was started by Michelle and Dave MacKinnon, a couple owning a local pizzeria, in memory of their son David, who passed away in 2011.
David had suffered with illnesses throughout his entire life. At the age of 18, he was supposed to receive a kidney transplant from his mother — but a major stroke caused David to pass away on the very same day he was supposed to undergo surgery.
The MacKinnon parents decided to turn the situation into a way of helping others, and they have since been devoted to raising funds for other families through their foundation to help prevent future tragedies. Some of the money is also put towards student scholarships and Ronald McDonald House.
This is a mission that Lalicich vehemently supports, and he hopes that he can use his dog’s popularity to help the MacKinnons with their fundraiser.
“We just thought this would be a great way to get it out there,” said Lalicich to CTV News Toronto. “We’ve got an objective, we want to raise that money and this is our way of helping.”
Before he assumed office, Pal’s paw prints were marked into Niagara Falls’ guestbook, which also holds the signatures of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.
Lalicich said that Pal was on good behaviour throughout the ceremony. He held the city’s leash until Monday, March 27, when Jim Diodati reclaimed his position as mayor.
Those who wish to donate toward the David Gregory MacKinnon Memorial Foundation can do so here.