By Matt Wiley

Puppies are cute, but how about a puppy in a squirrel costume? And, holding an acorn?

Barks and the pattering of paws along Paseo Dr. filled the cool air on October 27, as thousands of area residents, some from as far away as Dade City, gathered at the Shops at Wiregrass mall with their furry, canine friends for the mall’s 4th annual “Dogtoberfest” celebration.

An event to support pet adoption organized by the Tampa Cat Crusaders — a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to saving community cats — “Dogtoberfest” played host to more than 50 pet adoption agencies for both cats and dogs. From dachshunds and shar peis to huskies and boxers, there were adoption agencies and rescues for numerous types of four-legged companions, including a few for cats, as well.

“The whole idea is to help these local animal rescues with adoptions,” says Debbie Detweiler, director of marketing for the Shops at Wiregrass, who estimated more than 20,000 people were in attendance throughout the event. “It’s a great time of year to adopt because it’s right before the holidays. There’s no better gift.”

“Dogtoberfest” also featured costume contests for pets with several categories, including “cutest,” “scariest,” “pet/owner look-a-like” and more, as well as a full-sized obstacle course that drew a crowd all day long. The crowd cheered and laughed as pet owners helped their dogs through the course, although many dogs needed no assistance and clocked impressive times for which prizes were awarded at the end of the day.

Despite the overcast skies and cool temperatures, watering stations were featured down the center of Paseo Dr. to help keep pets hydrated. Overall, pups and their owners alike couldn’t have asked for more comfortable weather or a better time!

For a link to the costume contest results, be sure to check out, and for a full “Dogtoberfest” gallery, visit the Neighborhood News Facebook page.

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