Love at first sight

Rebecca Kennedy said it was nearly love at first sight when she saw Poncho the pit bull mix that she adopted from The Gatesville Animal Shelter at the Pet Adoption Extravaganza at the Bell County Expo Center on Saturday September 14, 2019.

BELTON — The fortune of many a pet was determined Saturday at the Bell County Expo Center.

Adoptable animals of all kinds and a variety of activities for children and adults drew a large crowd to the Pet Adoption Extravaganza in the exposition building. Ron Ducharme, owner of Rescue Magazine and organizer of the event, said he expected about 6,000 people to attend. By early afternoon he was more than halfway to the goal of rescuing out 250 animals. That wasn’t just dogs and cats. He had ferrets, horses, donkeys, birds, farm animals and mini pigs.

“The purpose of Rescue Magazine is to showcase animals in need of a home,” he said. “A lot of people look forward to this event every year.”

Linda Marzi, president of Killeen Animal Alliance said it was the nonprofit’s second time at the adoption extravaganza.

‘It’s much bigger this year,” she said.

Members of the alliance trap, neuter and release cats, she said.

“Dogs we keep to get adopted — occasionally rabbits,” she said. “We do all kinds of animals.”

She and her assistants were selling animal toys that had been donated.

“We get food donated, like big bags of cat and dog food that we deliver to senior citizens and low income families,” she said.

She advised people to spay, neuter and microchip their pets.

“We deal with a lot of animals that are lost,” she said. “We get the chip scanned and we take them back to the owners.”

The animal shelters need more foster homes for the animals, she said.

“They keep it until you can put it back in the shelter,” she said. “Or some people foster until they can get them adopted.”

Connie Flores is manager of Texas Humane Heroes in Killeen, which also has a rescue center in Leander, with a total of about 350 dogs and cats, counting puppies and kittens.

“We pull from animal shelters,” she said. “We spay, neuter and give them all their vaccines, and then we put them up for adoption.”

She and her assistants handed out information about the low-cost spay-neuter program they do every Wednesday.

Emily Ceresoli, a receptionist for Sit Means Sit in Killeen, said she and her associates talked to a lot of people who already owned dogs and those who adopted them at the extravaganza.

“They take a look at our dogs, to kind of help people see what we do,” she said.

The dog trainers teach such basic commands as “Sit,” “Stay,” and “Drop It,” she said.

“I think one of the main things people have trouble with when they adopt is behavioral issues,” she said. “We’re just giving them the chance to come see us, to work on those issues.”

It is not too difficult to teach a dog not to bark, she said.

“That’s our ‘Quiet’ command,” she said. “Most of it is just association, learning that barking is not a good thing to do. So after a little bit they understand.”

The number one reason people drop off dogs is behavioral issues, she said, and the trainers want to show that they can help.

“I think dog brains are really pretty easy to understand,” she said. “Also there’s a bond that you create with your dog when you put them into training.”