Downtown dog fest

A WET ONE Lowell Packham gets a kiss from a four-legged friend at the June 2 Jake’s Fest in downtown Morgan Hill. Credit: Robert Eliason

Jake’s Fest, a fundraiser to help sick or injured shelter dogs find their forever homes, just completed its second annual event in downtown Morgan Hill and has already almost doubled in size.

About 600 people—many with their canine best friends—attended Jake’s Fest 2019, which took place the afternoon of June 2 on East Fourth Street, right outside Kelly Brewing Company. Event organizers closed off the street to make room for live bands, nine vendor booths and a dog kissing booth.

Jake’s Fest is a fundraiser for Jake’s Wish, a local non-profit that helps match abandoned, sick or injured dogs from shelters with loving, caring permanent homes. Funds raised at Jake’s Fest 2019—about $40,000 and counting as of June 3—will help Jake’s Wish pay for medical expenses for dogs that need some healing before they can be adopted.

The funds were raised from admission sales and proceeds from a silent auction of dozens of prizes donated by area residents and businesses. Vendors also donated a portion of sales to Jake’s Wish.

Jake’s Wish founder Heidi Schlagel said this year’s attendance at Jake’s Fest is up from about 350 who attended the 2018 event. Schlagel said money raised by or donated to Jake’s Wish “allows us to get dogs out of shelters that would otherwise be euthanized for medical reasons.”

“We take on a lot of (dogs with) broken bones, broken pelvises (or) dogs that need surgery,” Schlagel added. She said the non-profit recently began caring for a dog that swallowed a foreign object and required surgery. The canine is recovering nicely, she said.

“If they were in a shelter, the shelter can’t take on a bunch of medical expenses, so they would otherwise be euthanized,” Schlagel said.

When these dogs are nursed back to health, Jake’s Wish asks humans interested in fostering the animals for a modest adoption fee.

Since Jake’s Wish began saving dogs in April 2014, the non-profit has matched about 1,100 dogs with their new forever homes. These homes have been found throughout the region, from Carmel to San Francisco.

Schlagel added that Jake’s Wish focuses significantly on underserved animal shelters that are not flush with public funds, including the San Martin and Hollister shelters.

For more information about Jake’s Wish, including how to foster a dog or make a donation, visit the non-profit’s website at, or search for “Jake’s Wish” on Facebook and Instagram.

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