The Coast News Group
Hairy Pawter was among the participants last year at Helen Woodward Animal Center’s annual PAWmicon Convention, which this year was held July 15 at the Hazard Center in San Diego. Proceeds from the costume contest and opportunity drawing tickets go to support the pets and programs at Helen Woodward. Courtesy photo
CommunityRancho Santa Fe

Helen Woodward calls for superheroes at PAWmicon

While 2018 Comic-Con International in San Diego kicks off on July 19, pets got into the act on July 15 for the Helen Woodward Animal Center’s sixth Annual PAWmicon Convention. Hazard Center was the venue where orphan pets of Helen Woodward Animal Center could find their own superheroes with the goal of having a forever home.

According to Helen Woodward Public Relations and Communications Director Jessica Gercke, this event is one of her favorites. She said the idea is that there is a parallel between people lining up, sometimes overnight, to meet their superheroes at Comic-Con and orphaned pets and those who adopt them.

Gercke said while pets wait for their superheroes to rescue them, they too have their own superhero ways by giving back to their pet parents companionship and happiness. 

It was that idea that sparked the PAWmicon Convention.

“Every year, we get together with other animal lovers, and promote adoption through this really fun PAWmicon event,” Gercke said. “It has grown so much now we have it over at the Hazard Center in San Diego.”

It’s a free family event where there are no creativity boundaries — the sky is the limit. There is also something for everyone, such as carnival games for the kids, booths and opportunity drawings. 

One of the event’s highlights is the pet costume contest.

“We’ve seen everything from pets dressed like Harry Potter to Batman,” she said. “A lot of people who really get into Comic-Con get into PAWmicon because it involves their animals and you can’t bring your pets down to Comic-Con.”

Gercke said contest entrants aren’t just for “pawsome pets” — pet owners can get in on the fun too and dress up as a duo with their pets. Every contest participant walks away a winner with a goody bag.   

According to Gercke, it’s such a unique event that it garnered the attention of local, regional and even national press such as People Magazine and In Touch Weekly.

For Gercke, her favorite aspect of PAWmicon is what she sees in everyone.

“People have a passion for going down to Comic-Con, but when you see them, and they’ve got their animals at PAWmicon, what you realize is that these animals are their family members,” she said.

Many of the pets that attend are former Helen Woodward rescues with their pet parents, which is always great for Gercke and the center’s team members, so they have an opportunity to reconnect. 

While PAWmicon is a free event, there is a $10 costume contest entry fee. Gercke wants people to know that proceeds from the costume contest and opportunity drawing tickets go to support the pets and programs at Helen Woodward.

“And that makes people excited knowing that while they have a fun day they are doing something for our rescues,” Gercke said.

For more information about PAWmicon, pet adoption or pet fostering, visit