Pet Fest brings ‘Barks’ to San Marcos


Festive dogs dress up as mermaids for the annual Pet Fest competition in the midst of 'The Mermaid City.' Photo credit: Mia Estrada

Mia Estrada

The 17th annual Pet Fest took place Oct. 19 in San Marcos Plaza Park to promote Pet Prevent a Litter of Central Texas, known as PALS. The annual festival relies on the community’s generous service by only accepting volunteer work with no paid positions.

The festival aimed to promote PALS and the work it does for the community. Though the organization is not an official animal shelter, it applies for and receives grants to help people get their pets spayed and neutered to decrease the number of stray animals in San Marcos.

President of PALS Dale Nave said the organization serves animals and their owners through its generous work.

“Since the main concern for people is the ability to afford pets, we like to think we serve the public by helping improve their way of life by having a pet to call their own,” Nave said.

PALS helps people in the community acquire grants to fix their animals and has a trap-neuter-return program. PAWS Shelter of Central Texas staff helps people catch, fix and return wild cats. If the animals cannot be domesticated once fixed, they are transferred to the barn program, which allows wild cats to live on a farm. Owners have been trained on how to properly take care of the cats and keep them contained.

The felines have a month to properly adjust before they can call the barn their forever home.

Additionally, PALS teams up with local animal shelters throughout the city to help fix animals and spread awareness about the organization. Once a month, the group goes to neighboring shelters to fix all the animals brought in, and holds weekly adoptions at the Petco in Kyle, Texas.

Nancy Justafson, foster and adoption coordinator for PALS, said without the organization, there would be more homeless animals throughout the city. Neighboring county shelters would not take in all creatures due to space issues.

“All of our collaborations with neighboring organizations allow people to learn about the importance of fixing their animals and adopting pets who are older and without a home,” Justafson said.

The festival was meant to promote responsible pet ownership, shelter pet adoptions, local rescue groups and emphasize the importance of getting pets spayed and neutered. The event provided live music, K-9 unit demonstration, dog races, raffles and vendors who donated.

Amanda Beaver, sports and exercise science junior, attended the festival with her dog, Dakota. The pair enjoyed the vendors selling dog toys, treats and the free fall-themed backdrop for pictures.

“I loved taking Dakota to the festival because she was able to play with dogs, get her energy out and even pick a few news toys that helped an amazing cause,” Beaver said.

By attending the event, people throughout the community and struggling college students gutsy enough to get a puppy can learn about a great organization helping fix and care for pets at an affordable price.

For more information on PALS and how to get involved in its generous work, visit its website at


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