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Dogs, cats, other critters welcome at May 23 pet parade, fest

With a beach theme and a dogged publicity campaign, the second annual La Jolla Pet Parade & Festival on May 23 promises to top the fun and novelty of last year’s inaugural event, organizers say.

“Last year was a hoot and this year will be even hootier,” quipped La Jollan Candy Schumann, volunteer executive director of Spay Neuter Action Project (SNAP), a nonprofit animal welfare group benefiting from the event. “We want it to be fun and happy and goofy — smiles on faces the whole day.”

Nancy Warwick, who helped come up with the idea and is also involved this year, agreed last year’s pet fest was so successful it would be unwise to stray from the format. In 2009, Promote La Jolla sponsored the event.

“It’s really a tremendous grass-roots community event,” she said. “We had a very spontaneous element to it last year that we expect to continue.”

They hope pet owners will also dress the part for the pet parade and the rest of the animal-friendly festivities.

Warwick said the pet parade recognizes that La Jolla is an animal-friendly place.

“Working with business owners and residents, it’s just been a rewarding, fun experience to get together each year and do this,” she added.

Last year’s parade grand marshal was movie star Benji. This year it’s big-wave surfer Scott Chandler whose surfing dog “Zoe” has been a standout at the Del Mar’s Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon and Loews Coronado Bay Resort Surf Dog Competition.

Warwick said this year’s pet parade will feature a “surfer dude” contest for male and female dogs and a “What’s that mutt” contest with the winner getting a prize for guessing the breed of an especially intermingled animal.

The pet parade route has also been changed this year to make it “shorter and more scenic.”

Pet judges will be Nancy Miller of La Jolla Kiwanis, KGB radio DJ Coe Lewis, Margo Schwab and her dog Kima, along with Virginia Degeneres, stepmom of comedienne Ellen DeGeneres, and internationally known voice artist Lani Minella, who has done several TV and anime series.

The offbeat, tongue-in-cheek event does have a serious side: It benefits SNAP, which seeks to eliminate pet homelessness and overpopulation through education and by facilitating spaying/neutering.

“The intent is to raise funds for the services SNAP provides to the community, to end euthanasia for adoptable and treatable animals in our shelters,” said Schuman. She added that the only way to accomplish that end is to work within communities to educate people on the core causes of animal abuse, neglect and abandonment.

“We (SNAP) provide free humane education classes to kids, mostly in high-risk, high-service areas for animal control,” she said. “We also have two 40-foot mobile spay-neuter clinics, the Neuter Scooters, that have fixed over 21,000 animals throughout San Diego County. Our goal is to keep animals out of the shelters, and help as many as we can that need help in the shelters.”

If you go

La Jolla Pet Parade

May 23

-10 a.m. — Festival with vendor booths and adoption faire at the corner of Herschel Avenue and Silverado Street
  • 11:15 — Parade commences at the festival lot. It will then head down Hershel to Prospect Street, turn left on Prospect passing La Valencia Hotel, Wisteria Cottage and St. James By The Sea Church before heading back up Ivanhoe Avenue.
  • Noon — Pet judging starts
Register at

www.lajollapetparade.com

or on parade day, starting at 10 a.m.