Bergfeld Park, usually filled with the sounds of happy children, was additionally filled with the sounds of animals looking for a home during the second annual Petapalooza on Saturday.
Petapalooza, a pet adoption event that included dogs, cats, donkeys, horses and miniature horses, also served to address the issue of animal overpopulation in East Texas in a humane way, Pat Caldwell, event organizer, said.
“Petapalooza is about pet adoption, it’s about awareness,” she said. “(People always say) ‘Where did all these animals come from?’ They’re homeless. … This is to find adoptable animals homes.”
Caldwell, LeAnn Sellers and Sandy Sellers organized the event, which started last year.
Another goal of event organizers was to provide education about the need to spay and neuter pets to control the animal population, Ms. Caldwell said.
The park was filled with vendors from across East Texas, some of whom offered low cost spay and neuter services, as well as vaccinations for same-day adoptions.
Last year’s event had 98 animals adopted, but LeAnn Sellers said they expect that number to at least double, since this year’s event was much larger.
Ms. Sellers also stressed Smith County’s need for an animal shelter, which is currently still in planning stages.
At this time, the nearest animal shelter is in Jacksonville.
According to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of East Texas website, spcaeasttx.com, more than 10,000 animals were euthanized in Smith County last year because of a lack of a proper animal shelter.
The few shelters that currently exist in East Texas are selective admission and do not accept animals picked up by animal control.
They also do not investigate reports of neglect and abuse.
SPCA, which is closely affiliated with Petapalooza, also runs the Temporary Adoption Center on Old Bullard Road, open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Saturday. Betty Edwards, SPCA volunteer, said it is important for Smith County to have a proper animal shelter.
“A lot of these (animals) go into areas where they don’t have shelters. … They hold them until someone claims them, but if they don’t claim them, they put them to sleep every week.”
Edwards said the event serves to give these animals a chance.
“It gives the (animal rescue organizations) a chance to find homes for all these animals they’ve rescued,” she said. “These cats and dogs, this might be the only chance they have, other than the Internet, to be seen.”