It’s no secret that we, New Orleanians, love festivals. And better than any old festival is a festival with dogs, bunnies, lizards, ponies, and goats! The Jefferson SPCA Pet Fest is just that. According to Jacob Stroman, the programs director at the Jefferson SPCA, Pet Fest started off 10 years ago as a small festival at the East Bank Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter. In its early years, it consisted of just a handful of vendors, food booths, and games for attendees to play. But it only took a couple of years to outgrow the original site and to ultimately move the location to its current home at Lafreniere Park. The fest has grown to see nearly 100 vendors and over 40 different rescue groups and shelters from all over Louisiana.
The idea behind Pet Fest is to further boost shelter animals’ chances of adoption. With over 400 adoptable pets at this years’ “Pet Adopt-A-Thon,” there was a potential adoptable friend for anyone in search of one.
“Pet Fest gives the shelter pets a chance to be seen outside of the shelter, where many people are hesitant to go because they're afraid that it'll be too sad of an experience to visit,” explained Stroman. “Visiting with a shelter dog at a park is guaranteed to be a positive experience.”
Seeing festival attendees frolic around and love on their costumed companions can certainly serve as a push to those considering adoption as well.
“There's just something so special to see thousands of residents and their pets out in the park for this special event. You can see people out with a companion dog, cat, snake, bird, and even other pets,” Stroman added.
Other aspects of the fest included a pet health watch area, a pet costume contest, a pet market area featuring local vendors, and, of course, as with any festival, food and live music. All proceeds raised from Pet Fest go to the Jefferson SPCA to support and assist the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter. If you are considering pet adoption but dread the shelter visits, make sure Pet Fest is on your radar next year!