Parkdale’s annual Pet Fest was back on Saturday, and with it hundreds of dogs, a few cats, and even a reptile or three.
The Sept. 9 event, which regularly draws hundred of Calgarians to the inner city community, put an extra emphasis this year on connecting local Calgary and area non-profits and rescue organizations with visitors.
Tammy German, organizer for the festival, said that the festival aims to support local pet vendors and animal non-profits.
“We have a little over 70 vendors here today between pet vendors, services, product rescues, you name it,” she said.
“We love bringing people to our community and showing off our community. We are a small community, but we’re really proud of it and we like to do these events that we invite the public in for free.”
She said that one of the attractions for volunteers was that they get to spend the day petting dogs, but also that they get to support animals getting adopted.
“We we have a few new rescues here this year that we haven’t had before, and we have some variety, which I’m really excited about,” German said.
“We love supporting all the rescues, don’t get me wrong, they all do such good work and they are selfless individuals and all volunteers… but some of the newer ones that we have this year are for example them the Yamnuska Wolf Dog Sanctuary, The Alberta Amphibian and Reptile Society, and we’ve got an elder dog rescue society as well.”
Festival helps non-profits to spread their messages
Nicole Kraft, a volunteer with ARTS Senior Animal Rescue, said that being at an event like Pet Fest was important to spread the message about how senior animals continue to make great pets.
“There’s so many organizations out there, great organizations here, too, but I don’t think people know that we deal strictly with senior animals. So I think it’s important to get in front of people and just spread the word and who we are,” she said.
Kraft said she was fostering a cat which is 13 years old, and another that is 21—although the latter, she said, you’d never know was a senior pet.
“They’re still great. I love my cats to death and they’re still wonderful companions, older, young or whatever,” Kraft said.
Every year, the Parkdale Pet Fest holds a wiener dog race in support of Alberta Dachshund Rescue (ADR).
Running in this year’s race was Mona, a surrendered Dachshund whom became paralyzed after she jumped off a set of stairs. The feisty little wiener dog ran with the help of a wheelchair.
“She basically ran off a flight of stairs. This one’s fearless—still is—she would do it again,” said ADR volunteer Ivan Hooper, who was racing Mona.
He said he was giving her the chance to compete because he believed that all of the rescue dogs deserved a chance to be themselves.
“They all deserve something. That wasn’t enough for us to let her go. They’re little souls and they’re still sweet,” Hooper said.
“She’s makes the crowd jump, and that’s that’s basically the deal. That’s what we’re after, just making people aware that they’re out there and they’re still valuable dogs.”
He said he couldn’t imagine how hard it was for Mona’s owners to surrender her, but said that part of the mission of the rescue is to provide owners resources so they don’t have to.
“If you have issues and whatnot, we can help resolve them instead of giving them up. We want to be out there and basically be the face of promoting voiceless souls. I hope we can help them keep their dogs,” Hooper said.
Not just dogs get their day at festival
Sharon Botuin, a volunteer with The Alberta Amphibian and Reptile Society, said that part of the reason why the non-profit attended Pet Fest was to help dispel fears that the public have towards reptiles and amphibians.
“We have our snakes out. We have our ball pythons. We’re holding them, people are coming, and they’re finding out that you know what, snakes aren’t bad. They all have their role in in nature,” Botuin said.
“A lot of people that are fearful of snakes. We talk to them, we educate them, and when they leave there that fear is lessened. That’s one of the biggest things we want: education and awareness.”
Among the animals that the society had for the public to interact with were a ball python brought by a volunteer, a boa constrictor that was rescued by the Calgary Humane Society, and a rescued 20-year-old Tegu reptile.
She said that besides the public education mission, the society also engages in conservation work and helping to provide academic scholarships to cover research and education at institutions like UCalgary.