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Pet-Palooza provides for pet shelter

EricSidenstick OrlPark holds Bentley her long-haired Chihuahuwho took second prize as best-dressed pet. Bentley 4 was dressed as hot dog

Erica Sidenstick, of Orland Park, holds Bentley, her long-haired Chihuahua, who took second prize as the best-dressed pet. Bentley, 4, was dressed as a hot dog, complete with condiments. | Ginger Brashinger/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 17, 2014 11:18AM



Dogs and cats in the Orland Township area won’t have to worry about whether their families will be able to feed them during hard times.

For the fourth year, the attendance at Orland Township’s Pet-Palooza ensured there will be enough food for the township’s pet food pantry for months to come.

Admission was free at the event, but many people honored the request for a donation of either a 5 pound bag of dog food or a monetary donation.

“Last year it was enough to keep us going for a good six months in dog food,” Orland Township Administrator Mary Hastings said.

She said the “good, wholesome event” came about four years ago after Township Supervisor Paul O’Grady and his wife Debbie wanted to start a pet food pantry in memory of one of their rescued animals, Crashy, a blind cat for whom the pet food pantry, “Crashy’s Closet,” was named.

Hastings said there was definitely a need for the program, an offshoot of the food pantry for families in need of assistance, and the fundraiser has become an event everyone can benefit from.

“It grows in popularity every year,” Hastings said.

Guests with vaccinated pets on leashes—mostly dogs but at least one cat and one rabbit—participated in a pet parade followed by several “contests” with ribbons and treats for prizes. Township staff members judged such categories as best-dressed, pet-and-owner look- alike, smallest dog and best trick.

Tinley Park resident Pat Mitchell said she and her pug Maximo—dressed as a mutant ninja turtle—were attending the event for the first time.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Mitchell said.

Maureen Jurisic, of Joliet, agreed. Jurisic marched in the pet parade and entered several of the contests with her miniature dachshund Abby who took 3rd place in the best-dressed category as a cowgirl riding a stuffed horse.

“We’ve been coming every year,” Jurisic said. “This is one of the best. It’s getting bigger and better every year. It’s all for a good cause.”

Event coordinator Bill Brady, a driver for the township’s senior services program, said the event has grown from 1500 to 2000 attendees in the last few years. He said the staff and volunteers—about 100 people in total—prepared enough complimentary bags for 2500 people and not just those with pets in tow.

The family-friendly event featured inflatables and face painting for the kids, and about two dozen local restaurants had free food tastings.

The band Sundance played live music during the 3-hour event and Fun Fun Fun DJ, of Tinley Park, supplied the appropriate song for each pet during the contests, regardless of the breed.

More than 60 vendors offered either pet-related or human-related products, services and information. Not-for-profit rescue organizations and veterinary clinics had literature, information and the opportunity to adopt something warm and cuddly to take home.

Hastings said the minimal vendor fee is waived for rescues and shelters to help them “showcase pets.” At the same time, the fundraiser makes it possible for more people to keep their pets out of shelters.

“The pet pantry is solely run on donations,” Hastings said. “I think this is a huge, huge success.”



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