Pet Fest is an annual event created by Prevent A Litter. It serves to educate people and help them take care of their pets. The event started in the early morning with a 5K run/walk.
Participants ran along the river trails with their dogs, and there were Fun Runs for families and younger pet owners. At the end of the race, the winning dogs and their owners received awards.
“The run is always a fun, casual event. It’s just a way for people to run and celebrate our dogs,” said 5K director Elizabeth Wills. “We’ve always followed the river trails, and now people know a scenic route to take their dogs to.”
Pet Fest is the biggest fundraiser for the organization of the year. It provides supplies and money for their dog food pantry, educational programs and spay/neuter services.
Games, animal care stations and informational booths dotted the San Marcos City Park, all geared toward four-legged family members. One organization, Love-A-Bull, promotes the care and rescue for dogs with pit bull characteristics.
“When people see the box-shaped head of any breed, they automatically think it’s dangerous. We are trying to break that stereotype,” said Leala Ward, board member of Love-A-Bull. “If you don’t educate people, you end up rescuing and rescuing. When people know more about these dogs, more will get off the streets and become family members.”
Many other businesses, like Austin Doga, were also a part of Pet Fest.. “Doga” is yoga wherein owners perform the usual poses while the dogs interact, sometimes becoming part of the pose.
“When I bring humans to a centered place and get them calm, the dogs feel good and react to it,” said Nicole Vykoukal, founder of Austin Doga. “I’m a big advocate of adoption and pet rescue in Austin, so coming out here to help support (the organization) is a great opportunity.”
After the Parade of Rescues, more animal lovers showed up, families and costumed pets in tow. Two Labradors walked into the festival sporting superhero capes, while an Airedale let his horns come out with a devil costume.
Some suited up in themed and look-a-like costumes. In the kids’ category, a Chihuahua named Toodles took the part of a 1920s flapper with her owner. In the owner/pet look-a-like contest, Jaden and her owner donned pink Harley-Davidson attire, winning second place.
“We just got the pink goggles for her because she always liked to stick her head out the window,” said owner Julie Ferguson. “People always say we look alike, and we had this cute outfit for her. So, we thought ‘What the heck, let’s have fun.’”
Behind all the laughter and games, the festival generated exposure for Prevent A Litter and brought the community together.
Ferguson, who recently moved to Texas, said she is excited to live in an area that holds events like these for animals.
“It’s great for the community as a whole when people can meet with similar interests, whether you have a dog or not,” Ferguson said. “Plus, so many animals are put down unnecessarily, so having an organization like (Prevent A Litter) to fight that is important. The more festivals like this, the better.”