It might be the beautiful venue, the charities that are supported, or even the presence of the world’s largest female dog, but in just five years Pawlooza has become a fixture of summer in London.
The massive festival, which is expected to attract more than 25,000 visitors — and 6,000 dogs — to the sprawling Plunkett Estate (9282 Elviage Dr.), takes place Saturday (Aug. 16).
The festival features a day full of exciting events and activities for dog and animal lovers, as well as 175 vendors. Proceeds from the event benefit two local non-profit organizations, ARF Ontario and Leads Employment Services.
More than 50 animal welfare and rescue groups will be at the festival, making it once again one of the largest one-day gatherings of animal rescue organizations in all of North America.
Gemma Richardson, Pawlooza media coordinator, said the festival has become successful because it is, “first and foremost,” a day of fun for both human and dog alike.
“There is so much for people to do. It is exciting and interesting for people to come out and support an event that supports animal welfare, raises awareness of the adoption option,” Richardson said. “It also has a positive message and raises money for two good organizations. That makes it something a lot of people want to come out and support.”
Pawlooza takes place every year on International Homeless Animal Day. The International Society for Animal Rights spearheads the day, which features close to 80 rallies and adopt-a-thons around the world.
“Ontario residents love their companion animals and they not only want to make them happy, they want to help other animals find better lives as well,” said Laurie Ristmae, founder of ARF Ontario. “Pawlooza is the best of both those worlds; the largest gathering of animal rescue organizations alongside vendors and events to make every doggie’s dream of a perfect life come true. I am beyond proud of our Pawlooza team and all we have accomplished to save lives and provide happiness for so many.”
Besides raising awareness, Pawlooza is also raising funds for ARF and Leads. In the first five years the proceeds are roughly around $250,000, which doesn’t even include the “the tens of thousands,” Richardson said are raised by the partner organizations and other animal rescues.
The festival takes place at the multi-million dollar Plunkett Estate in west London, which is donated by the Plunkett family for the event each year. Along with the pet-industry vendors, and various rescue groups from across the country, visitors can enjoy exciting events such as trick demonstrations and doggie dock diving, as well as several competitions such as Pawlooza’s Next Top Model, the best dressed contest, and a talent contest.
Of course, the biggest part of the festival is the dogs themselves.
Richardson said it is “really exciting” for people to see so many different dog breeds, from the tiniest teacup-sized dog to once again visiting with the world’s tallest female dog, Morgan.
Vendors do well at the festival, Richardson said, because people want to come out and buy new products and treats for their dogs. They want to take their dog out to have fun, but also show them off.
“It really shows people in this area have a strong relationship with their animals and treat them as family members,” Richardson said.
Richardson also credits the Pawlooza success with the fact the festival is “100 percent” volunteer run.
Every year Pawlooza is made possible through the contributions of some 300 volunteers donating their time and expertise.
“There is a lot going on, there are a lot of people, a lot of events. But without any kind of major flaws, every year it goes off without a hitch,” Richardson said. “That speaks to the quality and commitment of our volunteers.”
Festival details and information about the organizations involved can be found on the official Pawlooza website, www.pawlooza.com.