A crowd of over 600 people and their dogs came out to LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve in St. Charles on Sunday afternoon for the first annual Pets-a-Palooza held by Anderson Animal Shelter, South Elgin.
Andy Hanses, the shelter’s director of major and planned giving, said that the idea for Pets-a-Palooza came from Beth Drake, the shelter’s executive director. Drake recalled a similar event held at TAILS Humane Society in DeKalb where she served as executive director for 12 years.
“We didn’t know what to expect, but it has been a great success,” said Hanses. “The weather for Pets-a-Palooza was perfect. We have over 40 vendors and seven dog rescue groups.”
Hanses said he and his late wife, Jill, started working at Anderson Animal Shelter 14 years ago as dog-walking volunteers. Jill served as the shelter’s board president in 2010, which was the same year they adopted their dog, Bentley. Hanses served as the shelter’s treasurer from 2013 to 2014 before he began his current position.
Hanses said the shelter will be celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in 2016. The shelter is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Funds raised by Pets-a-Palooza will help to support the shelter’s programs and services.
The event on Sunday included an owner and dog look-alike contest, talent show, costume contest, dog training demonstrations, face painting and a pet parade.
Attendees enjoyed watching Happy Jack, a golden Labrador retriever mix owned by Raine Ray of Wauconda. According to the dog’s website, he has welcomed home soldiers since he was 10 weeks old with the Warriors’ Watch Riders. In addition to being a canine performer, Happy Jack is a certified therapy dog, disaster stress relief dog, and a search and rescue dog.
Hampshire resident Pamela Chapman, a retired teacher who taught at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove for 27 years, is now working with Golden Retriever Rescue of Illinois. Chapman said that since 2003, the rescue operation has saved 1,800 retrievers.
Chapman brought her certified therapy dogs, Maggie and Casey, to Pets-a-Palooza. While Casey is retired, Chapman still brings Maggie to visit hospice patients.
“Dogs bring comfort to hospice patients especially if they had dogs in their lifetime,” Chapman said.
Jake Skibinski of Geneva showed Pets-a-Palooza attendees his patented Paw Boss paw washer.
“My father and I came up with the idea for Paw Boss eight years ago,” Skibinski said. “We made six different prototypes before we launched the product in April 2015. We will appear on the ‘Big Pitch’ with Kevin Harrington on Fox Business News. Everything on the Paw Boss is made in the United States.”
Tim Dyer of Northwest Obedience Club told Pets-a-Palooza attendees some of the best ways to train dogs.
“Gone are the days of punishment,” Dyer said. “Use positive reinforcements like treats and toys.”
For people who missed Pets-a-Palooza this year and for people who would like to repeat the experience, Hanses said that Anderson Animal Shelter plans on holding the event again next year.