Dogs barked, educational tidbits were learned and pets in costumes were the stars of the “Paw”rade.
The Joliet City Center Partnership, in conjunction with Safe Pets for Joliet, Paws Crossed Rescue Resource and Hawk Subaru of Joliet, hosted the inaugural Paws on 66 Pet Rescue Day Sunday, June 4, in downtown Joliet.
“We actually participated in the city’s Light Up the Holidays Parade, and we were downtown and we saw what an awesome turnout they had,” said Morgan Drdak, an animal welfare advocate of Safe Pets for Joliet. “We got such a great representation there that we said, ‘We want to do an event in downtown Joliet.’ We met up with Joliet City Center Partnership, and they were very excited. They’re the one who really made this happen.”
Highlights at the event included a pet blessing, police K9 demonstration and VIP pet lookalike contest.
“What we really wanted to do was to bring rescues out to a place they’ve never been before—there’s never been a pet event in downtown Jolie,” Drdak said. “It’d be a way to show the downtown area and everything that’s [around here], while also getting some animals in our rescues and our local shelters some exposure and hopefully, getting some adopted.”
Drdak said people appeared to enjoy all the festivities.
“We’ve gotten so much great feedback,” Drdak said. “People have come specifically looking to adopt dogs, which is really what the event was about. We want to make it a family event that people could bring their pets to and have a great time, because there aren’t too many events like that where you can actually bring your pet. We also really wanted to showcase our local rescue community, and it seems like we’ve really done that.”
Drdak added that shelters and rescues had seen a lot of interest shown for their animals.
This year, 24 animal shelters and rescues decided to set up a booth at the event.
“It’s a wonderful event,” said Colleen Collins, president of Perfect Pooches Adoption Agency. “I’m glad that it’s a great venue, and I’m happy to have a part in the first one and I hope they continue.”
Collins said people have been open to approaching their booth to talk about the Chihuahuas they brought in, which is nice.
“A lot of time Chihuahuas get a bad reputation for being kind of bite-y and snarkey, and it’s fun to see people when they actually meet a Chihuahua that’s nice,” Collins said. “They’re like, ‘Oh, Chihuahuas can be good dogs.’ So, [We] try to change the perception almost like pit bulls have a bad perception. Chihuahuas have equal but different issues.”
Collins said it’s been nice to see people showing interest in adopting a pet.
“We don’t do same-day adoptions, so what I’ve directed them to do is go to the website,” she said. “There’s an application to fill out, and then we also require a home-visit. At an event like this, we don’t do adoptions, but it’s a great lead to get people who are interested to come and see a lot of dogs at once, so they don’t have to waste a lot of time going from place to place.”
Collins added that while Chihuahuas sometimes find themselves staying in rescues longer than other dogs, she’s had good luck with finding new homes for them.
“I think we accomplished our goal for today, which was to help our rescue community and also provide an event that families could bring their whole family to,” Drdak said.