Pawlooza: Annual London-area event drew 6,000 dogs, 25,000 humans on Saturday

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Saturday marked another successful year for London’s annual pooch party.

Pawlooza drew a near capacity crowd of 6,000 dogs and 25,000 human companions to the Plunkett Estate in west London, according to its longtime organizer Laurie Ristmae.

“I’m extremely happy. When I see smiles on faces and people bending down and kissing their dogs, that’s my favourite thing,” Ristmae said.

Ristmae has been an organizer since the dog festival became an annual event nine years ago when it only drew about 2,000.

She said the large number of people is encouraging for the festival’s main purpose, promoting the adoption and the rescue of animals.

“This is the largest collection of animal rescue groups to gather for a one day event in Canada. We attribute thousands of adoptions to nine years of Pawlooza because they meet so many great matches here,” Ristmae said of the festival that was held on International Homeless Animals’ Day, as recognized by the International Society for Animal Rights.

Including the Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) Ontario, which Ristmae is the director of, there were 50 rescue agencies at the dog fest.

“My favourite part is to see these rescue agencies all working together and so many people interested and volunteering and donating and helping them out,” Ristmae said.

There were more than 150 vendors in total.

Mikayla Davis was at Pawlooza for the third time. She brought Hailey, her 18-month-old bulldog-terrier, with her from Barrie for the festival.

“It’s a lot of fun. There are a lot of cute little things to do for her and for me,” Davis said.

Dog dock diving, off-leash swimming, and a doggy agility course were hits, keeping hundreds of people and pups busy at a time, all day long.

Proceeds from the completely volunteer-run event benefit ARF Ontario and LEADS Employment Services. 

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