When DuPage County Fair President Jim McGuire and Director Carey Peterson lost beloved family pets earlier this year, both turned to adoption centers.
While they searched for new additions to their respective families, both fair organizers were struck by the large number of animals without homes in DuPage County.
"We both thought, what a great opportunity to host an adoption event at our fair," Peterson said.
For the first time, the DuPage County Fair will feature a five-day dog adoption program. Partnering with 10 adoption and rescue centers, eight of which are in DuPage County, members of the fair board hope to find homes for at least 50 furry friends.
"It's an opportunity for us to help our community," said Peterson, who is organizing the adoption event.
Fair organizers also are collaborating with Dog Patch Pet and Feed, 1108 E. Ogden Ave. in Naperville, to fund the program and increase awareness within the community.
"We're trying to get shelter animals homes, so that seemed like a good opportunity to let people know we're doing this," Dog Patch owner Greg Gordon said.
Each person who adopts a dog through one of the fair's 10 partner rescue centers will receive a gift certificate to Dog Patch to pamper their new pooch.
Two different groups will be present each day of the fair so attendees can stop by and meet animals looking for homes.
"If shedding isn't a problem, if you don't have a dream dog in mind, go to a shelter," Gordon said. "It suits certain people."
Dog Patch began taking on shelter dogs six months ago and currently has three puppies up for adoption.
Organizations like As Good as Gold, a golden retriever rescue center in northern Illinois, or Bombshell Bullies cater to specific breeds while fair goers who are unsure what type of dog they want can stop by the DuPage County Animal Care and Control.
"I think when adopting the thing to remember is that these animals can have some pretty serious special needs," Gordon said. "They're also some of the best animals in the world."