"Meet Your New Best Friend @ Pet-A-Palooza!" drew approximately
1,500 people to the largest adoption event of its kind to
come to Northern Arizona. Within six hours 101 homeless
animals had found new homes.
Participants included the Humane Society
of Sedona, Verde Valley Humane Society, Yavapai Humane Society,
Coconino Humane Association, and the Humane Society of Northern
Arizona, a privately owned Flagstaff shelter that opened its
doors Friday and held its first adoption day at the event.
What usually takes about a month to accomplish was done in
one day, said "B" Skielvig, executive director of the Humane
Society of Sedona. That shelter saw 25 animals adopted while
another cat and dog were placed Monday; nearly half of the
pets they brought to the event. The Verde Valley Humane Society
placed 10 cats and eight dogs.
"It's really bizarre because the kennel is half empty,"
Skielvig said Monday. "The number of people amazed me.
It was far better than I thought it would be."
Cyndi Sessoms, executive director Verde Valley Humane Society,
"It was way better than I expected. It was a great day.
It was hard work but worth it."
Skielvig credits Saturday's success to Michigan commercial
real estate broker Joe Sowerby, who spearheaded it. In addition
to being well organized, she said Sowerby's experience
helped them avoid the pitfalls of previous events. After all,
Sowerby has 11 years of experience doing this.
Over the past decade his efforts in Michigan have blossomed
into the two largest pet adoption events in the country: "Meet
Your Best Friend at the Zoo" and "Pet-A-Palooza."
Since 1993 nearly 11,000 animals have been adopted, the part-time
Sedona resident said.
"It's my second job that I don't get paid for," he said. He
sees finding new homes for man's best friend as his opportunity
to do the right thing. " I belong to these guys in the cages.
For me the payoff is animals going home."
Georgia Drought and her daughter Shavon, 10, read about Pet-A-Palooza!
in the newspaper and decided to see what was available. They
had been looking for a small dog for several weeks. On Sept.
11 they found the perfect match; a soft 6-week-old German
Shepherd mix. Before leaving, Shavon had already named him
"Balto". The Sedona family was heading home and
then to the store for dog food.
Drought said she was pleased with the variety of pets available
and appreciates that Balto is neutered and has most of his
"Meet Your New Best Friend @ Pet-A-Palooza!" offered a relaxed
outdoor atmosphere and a variety of healthy animals looking
for new homes. In addition, Canyon Pet Hospital provided veterinary
services, Sedona Pottery offered handmade pet bowls, and Susan
Faith debuted her new book, " Puppy Love", a whimsical
tale about the importance of pet care and child safety. Faith
donated 20 percent of book sales that day to the Humane Society
of Sedona. Animal Control also was onsite with dog licenses.
Wal-Mart of Cottonwood donated 25 microchips each to the SHS
and VVHS so several pets went home with a new implant.
Word of this event found its way to Chris and Tina Halstead,
who had wanted a playmate for their 7-year-old cat. Having
everything available at one location clinched the deal, said
Chris Halstead, of Cornville.
"It beats going from shelter to shelter. It's a convenient
way to do what we wanted to do", declared Chris, who
recently relocated to the Verde Valley from New York.
After about two hours and $20 later they left with a cuddly
3-year-old black and white neutered tabby that had been microchipped.
"He's low key and friendly", he said of his new
pet. "He's chilled".
Next year promises to be bigger and better as Sowerby plans
to make it a tradition in Sedona. He aims to double the number
of shelters participating, have larger tents, a dog agility
track, and more animal-related vendors on site.
Sowerby's personal goal Saturday was to see 100 animals
go home. With that goal met, he hopes to double that number
next year. The Humane Society of Sedona and Verde Valley Humane
Society plan to be there again.
"We'll definitely do it again", Skielvig said. "Thanks
to the event several large dogs and mature animals now have
a new home", she added. "It also allows other animals
that didn' t get adopted a chance to be adopted as more people
will notice them".
Sowerby admits his goal would be to never have to have one
of these events. However, until people commit to spaying and
neutering their pets, events like this are necessary, he added.
"We call them man's best friend but every year we euthanize
8 to 10 million healthy cats and dogs. That's a helluva way
to treat man's best friend".