CHARLOTTE – There was no shortness of cuteness at the annual Puppy Bowl on Jan. 27 at Independence Mazda, where hundreds of attendees turned out to play with shelter dogs looking for forever homes.
The event, now in its third year, was started by A Plus Garage Doors owners Jimmy and Beth Perneszi and inspired by the Puppy Bowl that airs on Animal Planet. The couple is passionate about animal rescue and wanted to give back to shelters in the Charlotte region.
“We had 250 people show up the first year,” Beth Perneszi said. “We never thought it would get this big.”
The Puppy Bowl has roughly doubled in size since then, with an estimated turnout of 500 people over the weekend. Activities included a Rent-A-Puppy area and kissing booth, food vendors, games, adoption information, and of course, a friendly game between the puppies on Team South Charlotte Dog Rescue and Team Lancaster Animal Shelter.
Holy Newton, of Charlotte, was one of several people who paid to spend some one-on-one time with a puppy at the Rent-A-Puppy area.
“I’m going to try to stay in until they kick me out,” she joked.
Newton already has two senior dogs at home, so she wasn’t looking to adopt a puppy – just support the cause.
“It’s wonderful that they’re raising money for the rescues and it’s so fun,” she said.
Riley Chalson, 12, and her mother, Lori, of Charlotte, rocked two puppies to sleep who were tuckered out after the ball game.
They’re considering adopting a dog and wanted to interact with a few different breeds at the Puppy Bowl before making their decision.
“They’re so cute and little,” Riley said.
“Dogs that need help got a lot of love today,” her mom added.
Erika Gorsuch, of South Charlotte Dog Rescue, said the organization doesn’t operate a physical shelter, so all of their dogs are in private foster homes until they are adopted.
They brought 26 dogs and puppies to the Puppy Bowl on Jan. 27 in the hopes that all would find forever homes.
“Events like this socialize the dogs with people and other dogs, which is an important part of the adoption process,” Gorsuch said. “A picture can only show so much. We want our dogs to have a connection with their potential owner. We’re not going to adopt a dog to someone where there’s not that special spark.”
All of the proceeds from the Puppy Bowl were split between South Charlotte Dog Rescue and Lancaster Animal Shelter. Both organizations received dozens of adoption applications.
“At the end of the day, that’s what we’re here for,” said Connor Roberson of A Plus Garage Doors. “If even just one dog finds their forever home, then it’s worth it for us.”