Visitors and participants of the annual Reston Pet Fiesta enjoyed sunny mild weather on Saturday, May 3. One of the signature events of Reston Town Center, this outdoor event was open to the public and brought together local businesses, animal rescue groups and pet owners for a day of activities and demonstrations. The event was also an opportunity to put in volunteer hours with animal adoption groups.
“Today we have about 100 volunteers,” said Lisa Stern, a resident of Arlington and volunteer coordinator with K-9 LifeSavers. Partners and volunteers with K-9 LifeSavers drive dogs from rural shelters to the D.C. area. A portion of each adoption fee goes towards the cost of transport. Approximately 38 dogs were adopted on Saturday at Reston with K-9 LifeSavers. “We were very happy to place some dogs in homes and save them from high kill rate shelters,” said Stern. Other pet adoption groups attending included Capitol Canines Animal Rescue and Lucky Dog Animal Rescue.
Fifty-eight dogs were adopted on Saturday through the group Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. “We have been coming to this event in Reston every year since our organization began,” said Lucky Dog founder and executive director Mirah Horowitz. “I would say this is one of our favorite events of the year. It is a well organized opportunity for rescues to adopt out a large number of dogs while ensuring adopters meet high standards.”
ONE OF THE VOLUNTEERS was Girl Scout Caroline Simmons, who helped educate pet owners and adopters on the importance of preparing pets for emergencies. At the Fiesta, Caroline spoke to people adopting dogs about how to make an emergency plan for pets in case of a natural disaster. The organizations K-9 LifeSavers and Great Dogs of Great Falls provided items for an emergency preparedness kit which was on display. Simmons, a member of Girl Scout Troop 5324 in Great Falls, put in hours to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award one can earn in Girl Scouts. “I attended this event last year for a couple hours as a volunteer,” said Simmons. “It was a wonderful chance for pet owners in the area to learn more about how to take care of their animals.”
Organizing the Pet Fiesta event was non-profit GoodDogz.org. “We are really thankful to the community and Northern Virginia for hosting this event,” said Mark Bates, Director of Events for GoodDogz.org. The organization is dedicated to educating potential dog owners on dog selection and care and supporting efforts of rescue groups. “This is our 14th year, and without local support this would not be possible… we also appreciate the support of our sponsors.” Sponsors for the event included Hope Advanced Veterinary Center, NOVADog Magazine, Unleashed by Petco, and The LifeCentre.
ANOTHER NONPROFIT which attended the event was Fairfax Pets on Wheels, Inc. The all volunteer program sponsored by the Fairfax Area Agency on Aging provides pet visitations to improve the quality of life of area nursing home residents. “People of all ages in rehabilitation homes and nursing homes find comfort in petting the dogs, and dogs love it because they get attention,” said volunteer Barbara Skouronski, a resident of Herndon.
Also attending the show were many commercial exhibitors, including family owned business Dog Bones Direct. “We drove down from York, Pennsylvania,” said owner Bob Strickler. “Sales are usually good, it is a great group of people, very well organized,” said Stickler. In 2013 the Reston Pet Fiesta featured 120 exhibitors and drew more than 10,000 targeted visitors. This year by the end of the day approximately 150 dogs were adopted. To learn more about Pet Fiesta, visit www.petfiesta.org.