“Woof-woof! Meow-meow! Tweet-tweet!”
The exotic languages of dogs, cats and birds filled the Redmond Senior Center last Saturday.
Whiskers, Wings and Wagging Tails, the City of Redmond’s annual pet fair, featured about 20 different vendors. These included pet adoption agencies, pet stores, local veterinarians, pet insurance companies, pet trainers, the King County library and several nonprofits associated with pet volunteerism.
“We call it a celebration of the joy companion animals bring to our lives. We try to have wide variety of things,” said Teri Burke, a program coordinator of the Redmond Senior Center.
The event featured dogs, cats and parrots. The fair allowed attendees to bring their pets that were well-mannered, providing an opportunity for the community to spend time with their little companions.
Vendors offered all sorts of good stuff for pet owners, including free samples, demonstrations of dog training and tricks, and even story-telling by a King County librarian.
“We have a full scope of vendors from pet insurance to therapy animals to organizations that help folks with pet loss. So it’s a really nice combination of all kinds of different parts of having a pet,” said Burke.
The fair provided an opportunity for those who seek to volunteer with pets. Many nonprofits associated with pet services participated in this event to promote their programs and to share their experiences with the community. These reflected a wide range of services, from a medical assistance to pet rescue, but had one goal in common: working with or for pets for the betterment of the community.
Pam Hurnblad, a puppy raiser at Canine Companions for Independence — a nonprofit organization that raises and trains assistance dogs for people with physical disabilities — was looking for more volunteers at the fair.
“It does take a lot of effort to raise a puppy. But, if two people are doing it and sharing the responsibility, then it’s a lot easier,” said Hurnblad.
Pet Partners, another nonprofit at the fair, takes therapy pets to visit patients in hospitals and nursing homes.
Sandy Kittelsow, a participant at the fair and volunteer with Pet Partners, visits St. Francis Hospital every week with her therapy dog named Chloe.
“They are all happy to see Chloe. Lots of them have animals at home that they are missing during their stays. You can see their eyes light up when she (Chloe) comes in for a visit,” said Kittelsow.
Pet adoption was one of the major features of the fair.
“We do a lot of these events, mainly so that the pets can meet their potential adopters and raise awareness of pet adoption. Let people realize that there are so many great animals out there looking for homes,” said Bryan Thomas, marketing director of Motley Zoo, a nonprofit organization that promotes pet rescuing and adoptions.
The pet fair was a great event for pet owners, but it was also an educational place for children and families that don’t yet have pets. Vince Sicurello, a Redmond resident whose pets are currently limited to fish, brought his two children to the fair so that they could mingle with dogs and prepare themselves for the responsibility of having a dog as a pet.
“Children who are just starting to think about getting a pet, it’s a really good place to come to see some animals and talk to some different folks to get some ideas. We try to make it an opportunity for everyone in our community to come here. It’s for the whole community,” said Burke.
“Too many dogs! I love it,” said young Michael Sicurello, who said he’s hoping his parents will get him a Chihuahua for a pet.
Eunbi Cho is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.