Super Paw Showdown animal adoption event

Teams for the Super Paw ShowdownThe Super Paw Showdown was the big kickoff for three powerhouse lifesaving agencies -- Best Friends Animal Society-Utah, Humane Society of Utah (HSU), and Salt Lake County Animal Services (SLCoAS) -- to partner for one adoption event. The event was the brainchild of Best Friends-Utah as a way to creatively bring attention to the pets-in-waiting in two of the area's largest shelters, HSU and SLCoAS. By parodying the big game of the season, the Super Bowl, the unique adoption endeavor brought out the best of what friendly competition can achieve for homeless pets.

Super Paw Showdown event

"Our agencies are committed to making the Salt Lake area no-kill, and by doing family-fun adoption events, like the Super Paw Showdown, where the results are dozens and dozens of animals finding homes, we are able to take more strategic strides towards realizing those goals," shares Anna Gonce, executive director of Best Friends-Utah. "Both groups 'were all in' for the event, and their enthusiasm and dedication really paid off."

Best Friends sponsored the event by providing the decorations, press material and marketing support. Humane Society of Utah and Salt Lake County Animal Services brought out their A-team adoptable players. Both agencies are part of the No More Homeless Pets in Utah Coalition whose shared goal is No More Homeless Pets, so it's no wonder they embraced the lifesaving opportunity.

Oscar the boxer, a favorite dog with Salt Lake County Animal Services staff, got his own homeOver 200 dogs and cats adopted

Of the 200-plus dogs and cats to go home during the showdown over the weekend of January 25, one of the most deserving was a tripod Boxer named Oscar. Oscar was a favorite among SLCoAS staff. Estimated to be a little over a year old, he arrived at the shelter with a broken leg. The medical team worked at saving the leg but weren't able to do so. The loss of a limb didn't slow this MVP (Most Valuable Pooch) down, and his winning personality shone through on game day!

"Oscar has the most delightful personality and was adopted by a very nice family fairly quickly on the first day of the event. We all requested that the family bring Oscar to future adoption events just to say hello," says Ken Passarella, longtime animal advocate and local volunteer.

Ken was thrilled to be a part of the event: "It's always nice to tap into events like the Super Bowl in order to hold mini adoption events. The staff and volunteers decorated the shelter with streamers, and there were canine and feline 'lineups' for the public to see. Dogs and cats were assigned to offensive and defensive 'teams' just to add a little more football flair. We had a wonderful response from the community."

Discounted pet adoption fees

Another attractive feature of the event was offering star players at first-draft adoption fees. Cats were available for $5 and dogs for $30. While HSU officially "won" the competition, all 86 cats and 119 dogs, who are now in a huddle with their new families, are the event's big winners.

Winners of the Super Paw Showdown, an animal adoption event in UtahJessica Almeida, behavior and transfer director for HSU, also found the event to be a touchdown from the 40-yard line: "It was fun and inspiring to work with SLCoAS and Best Friends-Utah on this event, but more than anything, I feel we were able to help bring awareness to the hard work that our organizations do every single day. The more attention we can draw to our shelters, the better off our community and our animals will be."

Well, there may not have been a halftime show featuring Beyoncé or hedgehogs, but every one of the participants felt like they were witnessing one of the biggest no-kill game-changers of the season.

Events like this are full of whimsy, but the work is serious. Best Friends has been supporting collaboration and cooperation among shelters and rescue groups in Utah for the last 12 years. The result so far has been a 35 percent reduction of shelter deaths across the state. We are committed to helping save every healthy and adoptable companion animal in the Beehive State and beyond.

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Photos by Scott Young