A dog stretches out for a catch during a dock diving event at a previous edition of Pet-a-Palooza. The two-day festival drew nearly 20,000 in Victoria last year. (Photo courtesy Pet-a-palooza)

A dog stretches out for a catch during a dock diving event at a previous edition of Pet-a-Palooza. The two-day festival drew nearly 20,000 in Victoria last year. (Photo courtesy Pet-a-palooza)

Pet-a-polooza continues to draw big Greater Victoria crowds

Running of the Bulls, wiener dog races and puppy stampede among the highlights

Despite the enormous number of pets that the event brings in, Pet-a-Palooza co-founder Lonnie Powell says there have been few dog-on-dog conflicts over the years.

That might surprise, given that the two-day Greater Victoria festival drew nearly 20,000 pet owners and an unknown number of furry companions in 2016, an impressive figure for the event’s fifth anniversary. But Powell says the festival is adamant in promoting responsible pet ownership and that participants overwhelmingly abide by that standard as well.

And the festival’s immediate popularity – and subsequent expansion to Vancouver and Calgary – didn’t come as a surprise to Powell. “The pet community is a monster,” he said.

Next year the event will broaden its horizons further, to Montreal and Scottsdale, Arizona.

This year the Victoria edition will move to a new home at St. Ann’s Academy. West Shore pet enthusiasts can take a free shuttle from Bosley’s at the Westshore Town Centre.

Highlight events include dock diving, a puppy stampede and wiener dog races.

But the most popular event is undoubtedly the “Running of the Bulls” which is, as it sounds, a race for both French and English bulldogs.

“It’s a staple for our festival … It seems to have caught on in Western Canada. People come dressed up, their dog dresses up, they train their dog throughout the year … It’s taken on a life of its own,” Powell said.

Seventy-five exhibitors will also be on hand, showing off the latest in pet food, treats and toys, and each attendee and their pet will leave with parting gifts courtesy of Paws on Cook.

And while the festival has a particular emphasis on dogs and their owners, Powell was clear that the event isn’t just for canine-lovers.

“We don’t discriminate. We’ve had a lot of cats out there on leashes, we’ve had pigs out there, we’ve had snakes out there. It’s primarily dogs … but if it has a collar or a leash on it, people find a way to bring it down.”

The free festival raises funds for Powell’s Just Love Animals Society through its sizeable list of sponsors and takes place on Aug. 12 and 13 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

In addition to Westshore Town Centre, shuttles will leave from Pets West at Broadmead Village. Four-legged passengers are welcome.

joel.tansey@goldstream

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