Furry Friends

Kandace Kuwahara, founder and executive director of Infinite Love Rescue, carries “Sweetie Pie,” one of the many pets her organization has rescued and found a forever home. Her Furbaby Lovefest event is coming to Gardena on Oct.1. The 2022 Lovefest has an ’80s theme. (Courtesy photo)

By Gary Luster

Furbaby Lovefest coming to Gardena

More than 70 million dogs and cats are estimated to be homeless in the United States, according to the Humane Society. And of those 70 million, only 6.5 million ever make it to a shelter for a chance to be adopted by a loving family.

The city of Gardena and Infinite Love Animal Rescue are hoping to improve those odds for homeless animals through the Furbaby Lovefest, an annual outdoor fundraising event with the goal of raising $10,000 for Infinite Love Rescue, an organization that rescues dogs and cats from the streets and shelters.

Love Rescue intervenes on behalf of the animals to prevent them from ending up in shelters. The event will take place Saturday, Oct. 1, from 1 to 6 p.m. at the Gardena City Hall Lawn.

Kandace Kuwahara, founder and Executive Director of Infinite Love Animal Rescue, said the annual event, which is taking place for the second year in a row at the Gardena City Hall Lawn, is about more than just raising money for homeless dogs and cats.

“In addition to raising funds, our intention is to provide a fun and engaging event for furbabies and their family members by having music, doggie games and vendors,” Kuwahara said. “I also want to support my beloved community by providing low-cost services, free nail trims, ear cleaning, and anal gland expressions for dogs and cats.

“One of our vendors will be doing free dog training, demos, and agility for dogs that are attending. And we are also raising awareness on the importance of spaying and neutering, rescuing animals, and emphasizing the importance of the human-animal relationship bond,” she said.

Attendance and parking at the event are free thanks to donations that have been made to Infinite Love Animal Rescue. Kuwahara said that all are welcome to attend, including children with well-behaved dogs on a leash or cats in secure carrying cases.nShe expects more than 300 people to attend.

Donations are welcome for those who wish to participate in the three games that will be featured at the event: sitting musical chairs, a canine kissing contest and the main event: a doggie costume contest.

This year’s doggie costume contest, which features an ‘80s theme, will be sponsored and hosted for the second year in a row by Live South Bay Local, real estate team Yoshiko Oest and Russell Nomura.

First prize will be a trophy plus a $100 Visa card, second prize will be a $60 Visa card, and third prize will be a $40 Visa card.

“My intention for this event is to have a fun and colorful event that our multi-generational community will enjoy,” Kuwahara said. “The Totally ‘80s PAW-ty is going to be a positive and lighthearted event with lots of dance music creating a memorable and uplifting event. One of the most iconic aspects of this era was the bold style and fashion, which I feel will add some PAWsome and creative entries in our Dog Costume contest. And since the ‘80s are making a new comeback, such as fanny packs and saturated colors, doing an ‘80s theme will help to close the gap between the generations. Parents that were raised in the 80s now have kids that are millennials and they can reintroduce their adolescent years to their kids.”

Other events include a raffle and a silent auction. Every participant will receive a gift bag with over $20 in value including dog treats and raffle tickets! The first place raffle prize will be large-screen TV.

Those who choose to attend the event with their pets in tow can expect to receive free health services for their dogs. Kat Nolasco, owner of One 4 One Grooming and More in Norwalk, will be doing the free nail trims and ear cleaning for dogs.

“Kat does a lot of work to help her community, including a pet pantry to help any family in need of pet food and supplies,” Kuwahara said. “She is a long-time partner with Infinite Love Animal Rescue and grooms our dogs that need it the most.”

In addition to the games, raffle, and costume contest, the Furbaby Lovefest will also feature many vendors who will be in attendance selling hand- crafted jewelry, candles, leashes, collars, nail polish, shirts, essential oils, handbags, purses, personal pet illustrations, dog and cat toys, furbaby strollers, pet food and treats.

Infinite Love Animal Rescue is a non-profit animal rescue dedicated to helping homeless pets find their forever homes. They rescue small dogs and cats and have helped hundreds of animals including senior and bonded dogs, and handicap dogs since they started in 2017.

Infinite Love Animal Rescue has a long track record of animal rescues. One such rescue was of a tri-pawed dog named Trinity who was in an animal shelter suffering from a broken leg that never healed. As a result, the leg had to be amputated. Currently, Trinity is living in the South Bay with her new family.

Other rescues include a deaf Chihuahua named Frieda and a deaf boxer named Xia. One dog named Lollipop was anemic, had tapeworms, an ear infection, a skin infection, and stage 2 breast cancer. After Infinite Love Animal Rescue gave her the medical care she needed, Lollipop’s cancer went into remission and she was placed into a loving home.

But dogs aren’t the only animals that benefit from Infinite Love Animal Rescue. Last year they started rescuing cats. Specializing in pregnant feline mothers they provide them with food and medical care in a safe and loving home environment.

Infinite Love Animal Rescue also teaches classes in dog safety, pet care, and the importance of spay and neutering pets to avoid pet overpopulation.

Kuwahara said that the annual event has been attracting the attention of local city officials. Last year, Mayor Pro Tem Rodney G. Tanaka attended the event, and Kuwahara is hopeful that he will attend this year’s event as well.

If this year’s fundraising event is successful, then Kuwahara would like to see it expand to other cities beyond Gardena.

For more information on Infinite Love Animal Rescue or on the upcoming Furbaby Lovefest, please follow them on Instagram and Facebook at @InfiniteLoveRescue or visit www.infiniteloverescue.org/furbabylovefest

For monetary, raffle, and silent auction donations, email Kandace@infinitelLoveRescue.org