The wiener dog races are moving to a bigger venue.
The ninth annual Pet Fest celebration will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in the University of Montana’s Adams Center.
The five-hour festival will feature adoption agencies from throughout the state, including Missoula’s Humane Society of Western Montana and RezQ Dogs, which will bring adoptable dogs from the Fort Belknap and Rocky Boy’s Indian reservations. Local vendors will have a variety of handmade goods, including collars and leashes.
Linda Baumann organizes the event each year with her daughter Megan. After serving on an animal control board, she took on personal responsibility for educating the public about spaying and neutering pets, along with the importance of buying through breeders and shelters rather than pet stores.
Baumann said this is the first year the event hasn’t been held in Caras Park.
“We’ve outgrown Caras Park and the space for shelters is limited under the pavilion. Also, the animals cannot be outside under the sun for very long due to how hot it gets during the summer,” she said.
Along with the change of venue, featured entertainment has been added to this year’s Pet Fest. Davis’ Muttley Crew is a rescue dog act that has gained national attention and performed on the popular TV show “America’s Got Talent.”
Baumann said Pet Fest’s mission is similar to that of Davis’ Muttley Crew.
“All of their dogs are rescue and that fits in with the mission of Pet Fest, and I truly think kids and adults alike will enjoy the show,” Baumann said.
People are encouraged to bring their pets to the event. Contests such as peanut butter licking, the animal talent show and dressed pets will be held throughout Pet Fest.
The most popular act, the wiener dog races, will begin at 2 p.m. Baumann said that last year more than 100 dogs entered the amusing dash, which has three categories based on age. Mayor John Engen will announce each race.
Most of the animals available for adoption are dogs and cats, but other species are sometimes available depending on what each agency has at the time. A horse breeder with almost 20 horses ready to adopt will be at the festival.
Last year, approximately 100 animals were adopted.
Baumann said her best advice for people wanting to adopt a pet that day is to research what each shelter is bringing in advance and to come early for the best selection.
Baumann said she doesn’t believe attendance will be affected by the move from Caras Park, and that the event will be more fun than in the past.
“A lot of people in the pet business and everybody who comes either has a pet or wants one,” Baumann said. “It’s a big pet party, and a great meet-up for both pet owners and enthusiasts.”
The festival is free, but people are strongly encouraged to bring pet food as a donation. At the end of the event, food is distributed among agencies at the festival.