Pet-a-Palooza a real success

A 2-year-old dog named Sasha has hit the jackpot. She’s one of 150 pets adopted at a recent Pet-a-Palooza party in Las Vegas. And Best Friends was one of 48 nonprofit groups there to participate.

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Sasha’s story is one that has become far too common. The pit bull terrier mix lost her family when they were forced to relocate because of the economy and they could no longer afford to care for her. That’s when they left her at the local animal shelter. She was one of several animals whose time at the shelter was nearly up. Her last chance at getting a home was at the Pet-a-Palooza event.

When Mallory Berry, the Pet-a-Palooza event planner, met Sasha, she was touched by her personality, as well as her "extra-large ears." But, most importantly, she was drawn to the dog because Sasha’s days were numbered.

"I rescued her. She only had eight days left," Berry said, referring to when Sasha was scheduled to be killed. Berry adopted her at the event.

It was a day not only for lots of adoptions, but one of celebration too. People and their dogs - and the occasional iguana on a shoulder - showed up in droves. The total count: 20,000.

At Best Friends’ booth, people queued up throughout the day to spin the Wheel of "Furtune," where they donated a dollar for a chance to win everything from toys, treats, collars, to dog jackets and T-shirts.

When she saw the wheel from a distance, Denise Pool walked her rescued chocolate lab to the booth. "Score!" said Best Friends’ adoption coordinator Larry Donoho when Pool won a grand prize, which meant she could pick from any of the prize bins. Pool chose a hiking jacket for her dog Hime.

Stopping by the booth with her Airedale dog was Deb Manheim, a volunteer trainer with Best Friends’ Community Training Partners Program. Teri Koehler, (pictured at top)lead ambassador for Best Friends’ Humane Education Department, also visited the booth with her husband and their two dogs.

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There as an ambassador-plus-greeter was 9-year-old Cornflake, a special-needs cat available for adoption at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. "He’s an outlaw," Donoho said. "He likes people but he doesn’t like other cats. He needs to be an only cat."

Donoho takes the Wheel of Furtune on the road to an adoption event once a month to show and offer support to other groups while educating people about cats like Cornflake, who came from an institutional hoarding situation in Nevada. Attending Pet-a-Palooza with Cornflake also "lets people know about Cat World," where Cornflake and other felines live on the Sanctuary grounds, he said.

As for Sasha, she’s adapting to living in her new home. "She likes to take everyone’s shoes from the front door and put them in the kitchen," said Berry, who with her boyfriend is scheduled to attend training sessions with Sasha.

In the meantime, Sasha’s exploring the house and yard and enjoying new and different treats and toys, Berry said: "She loves her KONG and ice cubes."

Written by Cathy Scott

Photos of Pet-a-Palooza by Cathy Scott