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Pugs storm Gwinnett County Fairgrounds for event

If you go

• What: PugFest

• When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

• Where: Gwinnett County Fairgrounds, 2405 Sugarloaf Parkway, Lawrenceville

• Cost: $10 per adult, $5 for children under 12, $25 for families with two adults and one or more children — pugs are free

• For more information: Visit www.rescuepug.com...

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Special Photo PugFest returns to the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds for a day for the dogs, including costume contests, silent auctions and other fundraisers to benefit SEPRA.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- On Saturday, the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds will be taken over by wrinkly, flat-faced toy dogs, otherwise known as pugs, for the 19th annual PugFest hosted by Southeast Pug Rescue and Adoption.

After all the years, the need to raise money is just as great as it was on day one.

"Unfortunately, we've been getting a lot of pug surrenders," SEPRA President Brenda Megel said. "A lot of the dogs are really sick and their owners can't afford the vet bills."

The nonprofit keeps fighting the same fight year after year because the pugs still need help, according to Megel.

"We do this because of the need," she said. "We keep thinking things are slowing down and they don't. We have a waiting list for dogs to be placed in foster homes. Adoptions are OK, but not going out the door (quickly)."

During the day, there are two costume contests. The first one is for those who buy an outfit for their pooch while the other is for all homemade creations. Anyone interested in entering their dog can sign up on Saturday.

Early in the day, there will also be other contests in nine categories, including curliest tail, most wrinkles, most gray hair, best kisser and longest tongue.

New this year are something called "pug races."

"It looks hilarious," Megel said. "We have five race stalls to put the pugs in and the owners wait on the other side with treats. They don't win anything -- it's just for fun."

There will be a live auction to raise additional money for the nonprofit. Items up for bids include a queen-sized quilt featuring a pug portrait and baskets full of "pug wine," locally bottled wine with the SEPRA logo on the label.

Ninety percent of the profits from PugFest go directly to those who foster the SEPRA dogs. There are approximately 40 to 50 foster homes in the Southeast.

"I'd love to raise $20,000," Megel said. "We've made $16,000 in the past two years. Once we get the money, it goes straight to the vet bills and we have to start over again."

Owners are allowed to bring pugs and other small dogs who are under 35 pounds (but not puppies), are current with their rabies shots and are on leashes. No adoptions or sales are allowed in the event.