By Nikki Garrett Metzger
High Desert Daily
(Apple Valley) – It was a great day for animals and the people who love them Saturday at the 7th annual Paws and Claws Pet Fair in Apple Valley. And it was a “celebrity” studded affair.
Though the weather was pretty warm, dog lovers brought their furry friends out to socialize with other pets and their owners and to try out the new dog park.
There were more than 67 vendors at the fair, as well as Animal Services for the hosting Town of Apple Valley, City of Victorville, and City of Adelanto who were there to give out information, answer questions, and license animals for their residents. This was Adelanto’s first time at the pet fair.
There were so many activities for pets to participate in, including the dog races, costume contest, even an obstacle course. There were small pools set up around the park for the dogs to cool down from the heat and just really have a good time. There were adorable animals in need of a loving home that visitors were able to meet and possibly take home to join their family.
There were education booths, demonstrations, contests and snake avoidance training, as well as microchip services and low-cost vaccines.
It wasn’t all dogs at the event. The Hesperia Zoo brought some of their unique friends, including a snake, a young deer, and a small zebra. There were some reptiles and a small pool with turtles enjoying an afternoon swim. One of the highlights of the show was the beautiful wolf from the Wolf Mountain Sanctuary in Lucerne Valley who played the character Jacob’s werewolf from the Twilight movie series.
The main highlight was the ‘”leash cutting ceremony” that officially opened the dog park. Town of Apple Valley Animal Services Manager Gina Schwin-Whiteside said, “We get to open the first off leash dog park in the High Desert because we have a lot of support from our community. And we wouldn’t have these amenities, like the dog park, if we didn’t have the support of our council, who made decisions to put animal friendly activities within our community.”
Several Apple Valley Town Council members were also on hand to help cut the leash. Mayor Pro Tem Curt Emick addressed the crowd, “We are so proud to offer to the citizens of our community the first off-leash dog park in the High Desert. Not only does it enable you to talk to each other as human beings, you can now talk to other dog lovers and really become bonded as a community as we should.”
Actor Patrick Kilpatrick was the celebrity guest who helped cut the leash. He said to the crowd, “You know, the older I get, the more the defense of the innocent has become a recurring theme. Certainly animals represent a tremendous source of innocence and love, so I really applaud you for what you’ve done. You’ve all taken a step toward defending the innocent and those who give us so much, the animals.”
Kilpatrick is known for his charity work that includes animal-related causes. Animal Services Manager Schwin-Whiteside explained, “When we found out we were going to be opening up the dog park we wanted to have an individual that would co-sponsor this great event. We wanted to make it memorable for everyone in our community. So we reached out to Patrick Kilpatrick who has a lot of humane projects that he’s working on, and causes such as ours are near and dear to his heart.”
Kilpatrick has been in more than 120 movie, television and stage productions, including two documentaries. His company, Uncommon Dialogue Films, is in production on a television series about US Fish and Wildlife special agents that fight against the global threat of illegal wildlife traffic and ecological calamity.
The dog park is located on the easternmost edge of Civic Center Park adjacent to Town Hall. There are two fenced sections, including one for smaller dogs under 25 pounds and one for larger dogs.
For more information about the dog park visit www.applevalley.org or call Animal Services at (760) 240-7000 X 7555.