RANCHO SANTA FE — For the past six years, Helen Woodward Animal Center’s PAWmicon has embraced an ode to pop culture-themed dog cosplay for its takeoff on Comic-Con International. The theme for PAWmicon 2019, Cosplay for a Cause, will land on Sunday, July 7, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the future home of the Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park.
According to Public Relations Director Jessica Gercke of Helen Woodward Animal Center, the PAWmicon concept emerged when she had several friends going down to Comic-Con years ago.
“They were planning on lining up days in advance because they had a bunch of superheroes that they wanted to see down there,” she said. “At the same time, I had been running through the adoptions department, and we had a lineup of all these animals that had come into Helen Woodward. I was thinking about how they were all waiting to meet their forever families, and there was just a similar thing between them that touched my heart.”
A thought raced through Gercke’s mind: These animals were also waiting to meet their superheroes to give them their forever homes.
“Many of these animals probably waited even longer than my friends were going to wait — some have been waiting years to meet those perfect families,” she said. “I noticed the parallel there and thought that in the world of pet adoption people are who adopt are superheroes.”
Over the years, PAWmicon morphed from doing cute superhero photo shoots to an actual event.
Gercke said the media loved the concept from the start.
“It was a neat way to turn a cool event into focusing how we can do a superhero action of our own,” she said, adding the event just grew from there. “What we’re excited about this year is that Comic-Con gave us their blessing to have our event at the future home of the Comic-Con Museum.”
Gercke pointed out the Comic-Con folks are doing this entirely gratis. At the same time, Comic-Con is promoting PAWmicon to all of their thousands of followers who are part of the Comic-Con Museum.
“They are helping us raise the visibility of our animals. This event will now turn into one of our major fundraisers,” she said. “Before, it was just a fun media event that we did and a way to get information out to the public about adopting.”
PAWmicon ticket prices are $10 and pet contest categories include Super Heroes, Super Villains, Cartoon Canines, Pop Culture Pups, and Dynamic Duos.
Gercke said Comic-Con has become like a San Diego’s Mardi Gras.
“The fact that we can take our orphan pets and now get the blessing of Comic-Con to shine a light on those pets with PAWmicon at the future home of the Comic-Con Museum adds legitimacy to our event,” she said. “It opens up our event to a much larger group of fans to animals and the Comic-Con world to help make our message louder and clearer.”
Photo Caption: Helen Woodward Animal Center’s annual PAWmicon will be held July 7 at the new Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park. The event, which features dog cosplay, highlights animals looking for forever homes. Courtesy photo