Local nonprofit C.A.R.E.4Paws hosts its 8th annual Wags n’ Whiskers Festival for the first time at Santa Barbara City College’s beautiful West Campus from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday, “Dogtober” 1. The free event—the largest animal festival on California’s Central Coast—features adoptable dogs, cats and bunnies from 20-plus local shelters and rescue groups, a wide range of pet service providers, and fun activities for the whole family.
“We partner with C.A.R.E4Paws throughout the year offering discounted and free grooming to pets whose owners have fallen on hard times,” said Breann Hollon, owner of Bree’s Mobile Paw Spa of Santa Ynez.
“Wags N Whiskers is an awesome event. Bree’s Mobile Paw Spa will be attending and offering grooming services from nail trims to full shaves. We will be selling punch cards and with each will result in a $10 donation,” Hollon added.
Festival-goers enjoy dog agility, a military working dog performance, animal training, and the debut off the Strut Your Mutt Pet Fashion Show at 1 p.m. The show offers three costume categories—Superheroes to the Rescue, Pet-Owner Lookalike, and Hippie Hounds, Cool Cats & Bodacious Bunnies—and the top-three winners in each category receive great prizes from festival sponsor Lemos Feed & Pet Supply. Pet owners can register for the fashion show care4paws.org or at the event, 10 a.m. to noon. The entry fee is $15 per category and $5 for adoptable pets.
C.A.R.E.4Paws is also excited to introduce its Strut Your Mutt emcee, Dr. Courtney Campbell, who’s not only head of the surgery department at VCA Care Specialty and Emergency Animal Hospital—the festival’s top sponsor—but the host of a brand-new show called Pet Talk on Nat Geo Wild. Plus, he regularly appears as a guest expert on programs such as The Doctors, Live with Kelly and Home & Family.
Also new this year, the Paws Up for Pets Youth Center invites kids to revel in a mix of fun games and animal trivia. Here, C.A.R.E.4Paws will also promote its Paws Up for Pets campaign, a joint project with United Boys & Girls Clubs and Davey’s Voice that inspires compassion and accountability for animals among children K-12. As part of the campaign, which launches end of September, C.A.R.E.4Paws is putting on a youth art contest for United Boys & Girls Clubs members with the theme “Animals Have Feelings, Just like Us!” All submitted projects will be displayed in the youth booth and 10 finalists will receive prizes on stage at 2pm.
“Last year I was able to help a client whose dog wouldn’t stop licking its paw. Turns out there was a fox tail I was able to remove and then sent the over to the mobile vet to check for infection,” Hollon added.
And there’s more. Visitors can meet “Little Star,” an amazing mini-therapy horse, and majestic wolf hybrids from WHAR Wolf Sanctuary. Project PetSafe provides low-cost vaccines, microchipping and licensing for dogs from 9am to 1pm, while the festival raffle and silent auction features great prizes, including a trip for four to Disneyland.
The host of Wags n’ Whiskers, C.A.R.E.4Paws is a Santa Barbara County nonprofit whose mission is to reduce pet overpopulation, keep animals out of shelters and improve quality of life for pets and pet owners in need. Services include free spays/neuters, bilingual community outreach, humane education and intervention programs that keep animals in their homes.
“C.A.R.E4Paws does a great service to our county by helping to make sure our pet population is healthy by offering vaccine clinics and low/no cost spay and neuter,” Hollon said.