Skip to main content

The City Journals

Rescued animals matched with loving owners at Petapalooza

Oct 07, 2019 02:40PM ● By Alison Brimley

Destiny Allred plays with a dog available for adoption at Petapalooza. (Alison Brimley/City Journals)

By Alison Brimley | [email protected]

In the market for a soulmate? If so, the Viridian Events center on Aug. 24 was the place to be. Hundreds of prospects lined up behind placards that announced their age, birthday, number of siblings, personality traits and more. 

“I love to snuggle and watch TV,” said one. Another claimed to be good with children. One loves to play in paper bags, while another was about to graduate from obedience school. 

Among all these adorable options, anyone could have found a match. But no, these aren’t dating profiles. They’re bios of the pets available to adopt at Petapalooza.

Organized by Salt Lake County Animal Services, Petapalooza provided a space for various rescue organizations from across the valley to come together, matching animals with loving homes. If you were looking for a pet—dog, cat, rabbit or bird—you weren’t going to find a better selection in one place than the one you’ll find at Petapalooza.

But this year’s event was billed as an event for people and their pets to come and enjoy even if they didn’t plan to add to the family. The event has gotten “bigger and better every single year,” said Callista Pearson, marketing and communications manager for Salt Lake County Animal Services. “More and more shelters and rescues have wanted to participate because it’s such a well-attended event.” 

The vendor list has grown too. While the first year included only 10 vendors, this year’s event included 60 to 70, and they had to spread out into the field outside the library. The vendor list is made up of small businesses in the area that specialize in pet products and services, including pet realtors, veterinarians, pet boarding and even a pet psychic. A lure course in the middle of the field provided entertainment for dogs and their owners. In addition, the event boasted live music, food trucks and a classic car show. 

Petapalooza has also broadened its scope since it began. Originally called “Catapalooza,” it was originally scheduled in August because it followed “kitten season” (which occurs in springtime when cats typically have their litters). Now, at the end of summer, the kittens are between 12 and 16 weeks old and ready to be adopted. 

Adoption remains an important part of Petapalooza. The first year Pearson was involved, the event helped 70 pets find homes. Last year, they placed 135 animals, and this year more than 120 were adopted. 

Pearson explained that different rescues at the event specialize in different animals and different breeds, so there’s something for everyone. 

“There’s such a wide variety of cats and dogs in the smaller space, and it’s not intimidating to come out to this event,” she said. “People are approachable.” 

Utah Animal Adoption Center was one of the many rescues that participated in Petapalooza. Jeff Morman, event coordinator for UAAC, explained that though they do shelter and adopt older cats, they brought mostly kittens to Petapalooza. These kittens came from various places—some had come from other shelters, some had been dropped off at the rescue and some were rescued from a “hoarding situation” in West Jordan. 

UAAC has been part of Petapalooza for the last two years, and as a smaller nonprofit rescue in constant need of volunteers and donations, the advertising and exposure offered by Petapalooza a plus. But the number of kittens they end up placing is “hit and miss,” said Morman. It all depends on what people are looking for. 

County animal services participates in many adoption events throughout the year but none as large as Petapalooza. The Viridian was chosen as the venue because there aren’t usually adoption events in the area. 

“We’re trying to get a different part of the valley to come out to this adoption event,” Pearson said. 

And it seems to be working—this year’s Petapalooza was swarming with people. Some were there to adopt, but many were there just to enjoy the atmosphere with their pets and families. 

“I love this event,” Pearson said. “It’s just a feel-good event.”