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Halloween fun for a good cause: Costumed pets strutted their stuff, got new homes at shelter event

November 5, 2009 |  2:18 pm

We were honored to help judge Long Beach's Howl'oween dog-costume contest Saturday, but while we were having a blast with L.A.'s most pampered pets, our colleague Lu Parker of KTLA News was busy helping homeless pets find new adoptive families. We had a great time -- but three guesses on which of us had a more fulfilling Halloween! Here's Lu's account of the adoption event:

Spider Cop Hot dog

A spider, a cop and a hot dog. Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but what I'm about to tell is no joke. It's reality. For thousands of homeless dogs, reality means living in a cage day and night. It's a fact that keeps me awake many nights, but I'm happy to say that for one special day this past weekend things were different.

It was billed as Howl-O-Ween at the South Los Angeles animal shelter, a day to come see the beautiful dogs and cats who need a home. We wanted to spread the word: Adopt; don't buy. What it turned into was a day of many moments we will never forget.

For this one day, dozens of dogs got a chance to leave their cage and feel sunshine on their faces. They got a chance to smell the grass and to experience a little affection outside the cage. Volunteers and employees gathered to make it all possible. Local firefighters showed up to line a parade route. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa led the pet parade. We all ate candy. I was lucky enough to be able to emcee the event, and as I was talking on the microphone about each dog passing in front of me with a human attached to them, I couldn't help but smile inside.

Mayor

For the humans involved in the parade or cheering on the sidelines, it was special. For the dogs in the parade, it was a moment to shine. It was their moment to say, "Look at me. I may be homeless, but I feel beautiful right now." You could see it written on everyone's faces. The moment will always be a part of my life!

In the end, 14 babies found a new home. It's not what I was hoping for. I wanted all of them to find a family, but I know Rome wasn't built in a day. My question for you: How can we change that?  

[Editor's note: The spider, cop and hot dog Parker mentioned are all still available for adoption. Meet them in person at the South L.A. shelter, 3612 11th Ave., or call (888) 4LAPET1 for more information. To see photos of all the animals awaiting homes at L.A.'s city shelters, check out LAAnimalServices.com.]

-- Lu Parker

Parker is not just an animal lover, but also an Emmy-winning journalist who can be seen anchoring and reporting the news at The Times' sister station, KTLA. She's a former Miss USA, an author, an actress and a former teacher, and (best of all, in our opinion) she shares her home with Monkey, a rescue dog from the South L.A. shelter. Learn more about Parker at LuParker.com or follow her on Twitter @LuParker.

Top photos: Three adoptable dogs show off their costumes. Credit: Elizabeth Aguilera.
Bottom photo: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and friends lead the pet parade. Credit: Elizabeth Aguilera.  

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