Organizers dubbed Saturday the “gayest day of the year” in light of the fourth annual Pet Pride event in downtown Gulfport. Pet Pride took Beach Blvd. by storm. The event has been a hit with locals since it began, four years ago.
The event came into play when organizer Sheri-lyn Traylor realized that St. Pete Pride in downtown St. Petersburg was not a true, pet friendly event. With the annual parade and street festival being held at the peak of summer, there is no real place for furry friends.
"It's always bloody hot out at Pride and everybody loves their pets and wants to bring them out, but it's not the day to do it," said Traylor.
Traylor came up with the Pet Pride idea, and altered the time of year and the time of day it would be held, to better suit the animals. However, Pet Pride is still closely tied to St. Pete Pride.
"We're still supporting St. Pete Pride, but we can do it in a safer environment for our pets," explained Traylor.
Pet product vendors set up shop on Beach Blvd. to support the event. Specific breed rescues were also on hand with adoptable animals waiting to be loved.
Christopher Canales was at the Rugaz Rescue booth with his two dogs, Kekoa and Pele. At ten years old, the pair has been inseperable since their puppy days. Canales, a member of the U.S. military, brought the dogs to the event because he is being stationed in Hawaii, where bully-breed dogs are not allowed to dwell.
Kekoa and Pele are both bull terrier mixes, which is forcing Canales to seek adoptive parents for the duo. Although Canales would like to see the pair stay together, he said that as a last resort he would "rather see them in healthy homes, separately, than not at all."
"To have to split up your family just because there's a breed ban is tough," said a tearful Canales.
Canales is not ruling out the possibility of a foster home. His ultimate hope is to keep the two out of a shelter.
The Pet Pride event benefitted St. Pete Pride and Pets 4 Dorothy, a charity organization dedicated to financially assisting LGBT pet parents in times of crisis.
Traylor said that she hopes the "Big Gay Pet Parade" will become an annual staple in the Gulfport community. "We want this to spread everywhere," explained Traylor. "Every town in the country should have a Pet Pride."
The event appeals to a diverse crowd with one commonality: love for their pets. Traylor was ecstatic to be on Beach Blvd. once again.
"This is where I fit," said Traylor. "I love it."