Staff photo by Emily Crisman / Southside Pizza co-owner and 4 Paws (Pantry) Palooza sponsor Eric Taslimi holds his dog Duke outside the restaurant.

Celebrating furry four-legged family members — both current and future — is the focus of the inaugural 4 Paws (Pantry) Palooza. Hosted by local pet food bank 4 Paws Pantry, the event takes place at First Tennessee Pavilion Saturday, Sept. 7, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Local animal shelters McKamey Animal Center, Humane Educational Society and The Pet Placement Center will be at the event with adoptable animals, as will 11 area animal rescue groups including For the Love of Dogs, Misfit Dog Rescue and Scratch.

Activities include a dog parade organized by McCamey and a canine cake eating contest. There will also be a microchip and vaccination clinic, face-painting provided by Signal Mountain Middle/High School students, a balloon artist, and vendors selling pet related items.

"We want to highlight what we do in Hamilton County for the dog population, and for everyone to have a good time," said 4 Paws co-founder Betty Crawford.

Since 2012, the pantry has provided over 1.2 million meals to Hamilton County pet parents in need, helping more than 4,000 pets stay with their families, according to co-founder Sandi Smith.

Event sponsor and Learning Express Toys owner Patrick Holland will be setting up a kid's play area and giving away a wood veterinarian set at the event, Crawford said, adding that all event sponsors are local businesses.

One of those sponsors is Southside Pizza, which has been a strong supporter of the pet food pantry, she said.

"We're animal-lovers, so it's something that's pretty close to our hearts," said pizza parlor co-owner Eric Taslimi, who along with business partner Robb Peterson owns several rescue dogs.

Attendees are asked to bring a donation of a bag of dog or cat food as their entry fee, but no one will be turned away, said Crawford.

Registration for the free dog parade and the dog cake eating contest, for which there is a $5 charge, begins on-site at 11 a.m. First Tennessee Pavilion is at 1826 Reggie White Blvd.

For more information about 4 Paws Pantry, visit

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