Pet Connections


By April Minech

So, what is DogtoberFEST?  Hosted by CARMAA (Coalition to Adopt, Rehome and Match Abandoned Animals) A FREE event that celebrates pets and provides everything you need to know about adoption in a festival environment.  It’s dog friendly, so you can bring your non-aggressive pet along, and there’s over 100 shelters, rescues and vendors set up for you to visit. 

We say Adopt, don’t Shop all the time. There’s a great deal of money being made breeding dogs, so it’s important for people to understand when they purchase a dog what kinds of unscrupulous things they may be unknowingly supporting. Puppy Mills are everywhere, especially in our region. If you want to get a dog from a reputable breeder, expect to wait 6 months to a year. Ask if they show their dogs, see the parents.  A typical guarantee from a good breeder is that they will take the dog back at any point during its lifetime. So DogtoberFEST helps people learn where to get a dog, whether they are looking for a certain breed or what type would be a good fit for them. And how to find the support they needs once the dog is home.

There are lots of fun things to do at the event.  For starters, there is an enrichment trail. Dogs like to explore using their noses to discover things. A team of volunteers sets up a trail with hay for owners and dogs to walk through together, filled with special scents, novel toys and treats. And new this year is an art show hosted by North Hills Art Center, and the artists will be providing a special pawprint craft you can make with your dog to keep for a small donation.  And it all starts with a giant costume contest. CARMAA gives away $600 in prizes in several categories: Best Costume, Most Original Costume, Best Owner Dog Look-a-like, and some honorable mention prizes. And new this year is special category for shelter/rescue animals! There have been some great costumes in the past, such as a bulldog dressed as the Liberty Bridge, and a pair of dogs that were just married with all the decorations.

Are there only dogs at DogtoberFEST? Not anymore! When the event first started, the idea was to let people know the different places they could adopt a dog, and where to find support for any issues they might have with the goal of keeping dogs in the home. As the event grew – this is the 8th year – other species rescue groups reached out to ask if they could be included. And CARMAA said “Why not?” So they started including cat groups, and then last year a guinea pig rescue joined in. That led to the creation of CARMAA’s Spotlight program, and many other species have been featured since. PEARL, reptiles, and even turtles.

CARMAA Spotlight 

So CARMAA doesn’t have any animals of its own, rather they provide support to groups that do. For example, many rescues are run by a few very dedicated volunteers, who spend most of their time with the hands on caring for animals. Food, shelter, medical needs. They have lots of information about their breeds, but no established marketing department, no fundraising department, no special events department, etc. So they are limited in ways to share all that good information. That’s where CARMAA comes in. Our members have experience working and volunteering with larger organizations, so we try to provide support at the next level. The CARMAA spotlight program interviews the smaller groups and writes an article about them to share, and has an on staff professional photographer that takes pictures of the animals for free. Then the group is featured on their social media sources and shares the marketing package with the rescues to put out through their own network. CARMAA hopes to put a spotlight on as many group0s as possible, so people can go on their site and see reputable organizations to adopt from and get their contact information and hopefully learn more about what to expect from a species or breed. The biggest showcase of all these groups is annual DogtoberFEST event.

The event will have an Ask-the-Vet booth, sponsored by Robinson Animal Hospital, and an Ask-the-Trainer Booth. Maybe you’ve been wondering about a lump, ingrown toenail or something that seems a bit off – you can ask basic medical questions to get some direction. And the trainers are great. There are so many fixable issues that people surrender their dogs to shelters for, and maybe if they just knew how accessible professional advice was, we could keep some of those dogs out of the shelters. Potty training, jumping walking on loose leash, are all common issues that can be worked on.  They can take a look at your dog and give tips or recommend classes. A lot of people don’t get that classes teach the owner how to work with their dog, how to communicate and build a relationship. It’s always surprising when people think that classes are for dogs to learn tricks. There are classes to do that if you want, but basically classes teach people how to speak “dog”, and the trainers can explain what your dog is saying. Classes make great relationships.

Learn more about the good work being done in your area by visiting the CARMAA web site or joining us at DogtoberFEST!


CARMAA helps connect resources. For example, a large shelter might be able to provide medical care, food or material needs such blankets or bowls, and rescue could provide a foster home. CARMAA tries to spread the work about who needs what through our social media, delivers physical items, and holds fundraisers for individual groups. Everyone needs money, so they try to get the word out about the good work people are doing to encourage people to volunteer or donate.


December 14, 2023
December 14, 2023


December 14, 2023