COLUMBIA – Eight-year-old Bella Haver came up with the idea for Bella's Pet Carnival while watching TV.
"I'm like, 'Wow, these animals really need help,' so I had a wonderful idea," Bella said. "I hooked up with Melissa and here we have our carnival."
Melissa Kron, No Kill Columbia's Spay Neuter Project chairwoman, is a past shelter worker and avid animal lover. A friend of Bella's mother, Kron took Bella to other animal fundraising events in the past.
"She wanted to do something of her own that kids could participate in," Kron said.
Sunday's carnival consisted of a dunk tank, concessions, a photo booth and animal-related games such as a leash toss and a pooper scooper game at the MU Animal Science Center Field.
The carnival is one of three June events sponsored by No Kill Columbia, a nonprofit animal advocacy organization. On Saturday, Ruff Rider's Rally Poker Run will be held at the Mid-America Harley Davidson. On June 22, Columbia Pet Expo Unleashed will be held at the Columbia Canine Sport Center. Funds raised at the events will go toward the Spay Neuter Project and establishing a spay/neuter clinic in Columbia.
"The rescues in Columbia are doing a great job but they're so overwhelmed and it just seemed like there wasn't enough being done to 'shut off the faucet,' so to speak," Kron said of the amount of animals needing help.
Kron researched online and found the Humane Alliance, a mentoring organization that teaches groups across the country how to open spay/neuter clinics. The organization has opened 118 clinics nationwide.
"The low-cost spay and neuter available in this town isn't enough to meet the need that's going on," Kron said.
Once No Kill Columbia opens the clinic, it will reach out to rural areas via a transport system: going to other counties, bringing animals to the clinic to be fixed and returning them home.
Sunday's carnival-goers could play "Lost Pet," a game that let children identify microchipped animals.
"There's one dog and one cat that are microchipped," No Kill Columbia board member Jill Swain said. "We have a scanner for kids to come over to figure out which one has a microchip to show the importance of microchipping and how it works."
A veterinarian was on hand at the carnival to microchip the public's animals for $25.
"All of the rescues and the humane societies do a great job microchipping their animals before they adopt them out," veterinarian Lydia Cook said. "A lot of pets out there that were gotten from breeders or found don't have microchips, so we encourage people to get their pets microchipped, that way if they ever get lost they can get home again."
Columbia resident and Petco employee Jen Boeckman came to the carnival with her daughter to show support for the clinic.
"I think it's really important everyone spay and neuter their pets to avoid overpopulation and to help out with the humane society and all the rescues here," Boeckman said.
Franceen, the official cat mascot for the Spay Neuter Project, was also in attendance with her owners, Hazel and Debbie Blaisdell. Franceen is a leash-trained cat and has attended pet expos in St. Louis and Kansas City.
"It's important for Hazel and I to help spread the word that if we can prevent extra animals from being killed because there's no place for them to go, that's the best thing in the world," Debbie Blaisdell said.
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