Pugs take center stage at fundraiser

COSTA MESA — It was a costume contest to make any dog lover eat their heart out.

Pugs dressed up as everything from a princess and a frog, to a lobster and Frankenstein — and even a milk maid complete with tartan dress and two blond braids — pranced before the judges hoping to take the prize.

It was Queen Elizabeth — who else — a silver pug in a tiara and bejeweled cape perched regally on a wagon covered in white clothe and jewels, that took first prize.

"It's the year for the royals," said Debbie Fallon, who dressed her dog Jewel as Queen Elizabeth.

Fallon and her husband traveled from Long Beach to Costa Mesa's TeWinkle Park Saturday to attend the 13th annual Pugtoberfest, a fundraiser for the Newport Beach-based Pugs 'N Pals Rescue.

The two have been attending the event since they adopted Jewel from Pugs 'N Pals about four years ago.

"It's a good chance for us to give back to Pugs 'N Pals," Debbie Fallon said.

All the money raised during the event go toward paying for medical care for the rescued canines, said Pugs 'N Pals President Tina Seri.

Seri said the organization spends about $1,500 on medical care for a healthy dog, but the bills could stack up to $15,000 if a dog is injured or sick.

"We're very unique in that we do really extensive medical care," she said.

Pugs 'N Pals rescues not just pugdogs, but other smalldogs in need, and finds them foster homes until they can find a forever family.

The organization is currently beyond maxed out with 62 dogs in foster care, Seri said. She hopes the event will find homes for the dogs, but also bring in more foster families, volunteers and donations so they can save more dogs.

"Whatever they can do to help us do what we can do," she said.

Pugs 'N Pals volunteer Amanda Williford is one of those foster families. With her fiance, the two took in their first foster pug, Winkie, two weeks ago. The two didn't plan on fostering a dog with two already at home, but felt called to, Williford said.

The timing turned out to be fate.

"He's been a blessing in disguise," Williford said. The two's 9-year-old pug, Monk, died on Monday.

The Irvine residents were working the kissing booth, where for only a dollar, people could get a kiss from one of the foster dogs.

With hundreds of people gathered for the event, Williford explained what is about pugs that make them so special.

"I have to say they're so loving," she said. "They have this energy around them. You come home from work, you've had a crappy day and it's a party."


Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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