Looking to adopt a dog, cat, bunny, bird or all of the above? Those who find themselves nodding their heads may not want to miss the 11th annual Wags N’ Whiskers Festival. The festival takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Santa Barbara City College’s campus at 721 Cliff Dr.
The nonprofit C.A.R.E.4Paws is organizing the festival, just in time to celebrate the National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. There will be more than 25 animal shelters and rescue groups, along with more than 150 adoptable animals.
The nonprofit was founded by partners Isabelle Gullo and Carlos Abitia in 2009. Prior to founding the organization, Ms. Gullo was a shelter volunteer in Santa Barbara.
As a volunteer, she saw how many homeless pets were being carried in the shelter.
“And they kept coming in,” said Ms. Gullo, C.A.R.E.4Paws executive director.
From this firsthand experience, an idea to address the issue was born.
“We came up with an idea to work in the community to offer programs that reduce pet overpopulation,” Ms. Gullo told the News-Press.
The idea was to take on a more preventative and intervening approach: go into the community and provide support through services and programs before pets end up in the shelter.
C.A.R.E.4Paws has a decade’s worth of experience in providing a safety net for low-income, senior, disabled and homeless pet owners. The nonprofit does so by offering a range of critical pet wellness services, most of them in its own mobile veterinary clinic. The offerings include free spays and neuters, low-cost vaccine clinics, affordable veterinary care and delivery of pet food.
According to Ms. Gullo, the nonprofit helps about 6,000 pet-owning families in the county annually. This figure is more than double the amount C.A.R.E.4Paws started out with in the beginning.
“We keep growing annually,” said Ms. Gullo.
Up for adoption this year are several breeds of dogs, cats and more, and there will even be certain breeds that typically catch people’s eyes.
“Westside German shepherd rescue, southern California labrador retriever rescue, one great dane,” Ms. Gullo said.
Saturday’s adoption fees range from $100 to $150, depending on the animal. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage will be sponsoring more than 20 adoptions for lucky families.
The family-friendly event boasts several free or donation-based activities for all ages to enjoy. There will be a petting zoo, face painting, arts and crafts and playtime with C.A.R.E.4Paws’ ambassador dogs. There will also be a chance for festival attendees to have their portraits taken in the Pawparazzi Photo Booth. Other activities include dog behavior centers, cat behavior tips seminars and hanging out with Smokey the Bear. There is also a schedule of activities for festival goers.
11:30 a.m.: Agility with Santa Barbara Flyers in the arena
12:30 p.m.: Performance by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department K-9 unit in the arena
12:45 p.m.: C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Furever Friends awards ceremony at the stage
1 p.m.: Best in show with three categories: the Haute Dog Fashion Contest; X-Factor Top Talent Challenge; and Owner-Pet Lookalike
2 p.m.: Meet Little Star from Little Star Pony Foundation at the stage
There will be free parking for attendees.