An afternoon outside on a nice spring day, surrounded by sweet animals about to find their forever homes is sure to sound pretty great to all the animal lovers out there.
The annual Mega Adoption Event, put on by the Make Kern No-Kill Coalition, is back for its third year at the Kern County Fairgrounds on Sunday, but this year's event isn't just for people looking to adopt, but also for those who already have furry friends.
"The goal is not only to get people to adopt but to engage them with their pets," said Sally Breyer, deputy director at Kern County Animal Services. "Yes, we want you to adopt, but let's also have some fun with the pet you have."
The event is a massive partnership between 15 shelters and rescues in the area, including Kern County Animal Services, City of Bakersfield Animal Care Center, Bakersfield SPCA, Marley's Mutts, Pet Matchmaker Rescue and more.
"Getting everybody in one location is big," said Diane Lizalde, fiscal support supervisor at the county shelter.
With so many agencies and organizations in one place, prospective pet owners can meet even more animals to ensure a perfect fit. The event also gives pets the chance to shine in a different environment, outside the shelter kennels where they might be nervous.
"We take whoever is available for adoption," Breyer said. "We always try to take as many as we can. It's a good problem to have, but some get adopted before the event. We try to take everybody and give everyone a chance."
Each shelter and rescue will bring plenty of their own adoptable animals (adoption fees will vary depending on the agency). The organizations might also be looking for volunteers or foster families.
"If you don't want to adopt, you can find out how to help," said Karina Gonzalez, KCAS fiscal support technician.
In addition to adoptions, the event will have other activities, meant for both people who are looking for a pet and those who have already reached their household quota of pets.
There will be an "Ask an Officer" booth, a Bakersfield Police Department K9 meet-and-greet, dog training and agility demonstrations and information on local services.
"We want the community to be aware of their resources," Gonzalez said. "Our goal is to make sure you adopt an animal and keep it."
Pets can get in on the fun with four contests: best pet trick at 11 a.m., best dressed pet at noon, ugliest pet at 2 p.m. and best pet/owner duo at 3 p.m. Owners should sign their pets up 30 minutes before the contest.
Whether they are newly adopted or been in the family for years, pets can also get their photo taken and enjoy a "Pawpuccino," the coalition's take on Starbucks' dog-friendly treat.
For humans, there will be bounce houses, face-painting and a dunk tank featuring directors from area shelters: Nick Cullen, Lisa Richardson and Breyer from KCAS, Nick Riddick from Shafter Animal Control, Josh Dhanens from Kern County Veterans Service Department and Josh Proctor from City of Bakersfield Animal Care Center.
The Mega Adoption Event, which was modeled after a similar event in Los Angeles, is going to be bigger this year. In addition to more rescues, there will also be more vendors, including: Critters Without Litters, Self Serve Pet Spa, Kern Humane Society, Jilly's Collars & Creations and more.
"This year we've definitely seen more people sign up, vendor- and rescue-wise," Breyer said. "It's morphing into what we always expected it to be."
Not only is the amount of adoptions impressive, so is the cooperation between so many shelters and rescues, the organizers said.
"It's really meaningful and powerful that we can all work together to serve our community," Breyer said. "Everyone's goal is to really benefit the animals. That's what makes it a mega adoption event."
In the event's first year, more than 100 animals were adopted, with around 2,500 people attending. Last year's was even more successful, and this year's is already on track to increase those numbers.
"There's just something different about it," Breyer said. "Everybody is in a good mood. People are smiling, animals are wagging their tails. They're just having a great day. It makes me really happy we can be a part of it."