On Saturday, “Dogtober” 1, C.A.R.E.4Paws hosts its 8th annual Wags n’ Whiskers Festival for the first time at Santa Barbara City College’s beautiful West Campus, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The free event — the largest animal festival on California’s Central Coast — features adoptable dogs, cats and bunnies from 20-plus local shelters and rescue groups, a wide range of pet service providers, and fun activities for the whole family.

Festival-goers enjoy dog agility, a military working dog performance, animal training, and the debut off the “Strut Your Mutt” Pet Fashion Show at 1 p.m.

The show offers three costume categories — Superheroes to the Rescue, Pet-Owner Lookalike, and Hippie Hounds, Cool Cats & Bodacious Bunnies—and the top-three winners in each category receive great prizes from festival sponsor Lemos Feed & Pet Supply.

Pet owners can register for the fashion show care4paws.org or at the event, 10 a.m. to noon.

The entry fee: $15 per category and $5 for adoptable pets.

C.A.R.E.4Paws is also excited to introduce its Strut Your Mutt emcee, Dr. Courtney Campbell, who’s not only head of the surgery department at VCA Care Specialty and Emergency Animal Hospital—the festival’s top sponsor—but the host of a brand-new show called Pet Talk on Nat Geo Wild.

Plus, he regularly appears as a guest expert on programs such as The Doctors, Live with Kelly and Home & Family.

Also new this year, the Paws Up for Pets Youth Center invites kids to revel in a mix of fun games and animal trivia.

Here, C.A.R.E.4Paws will also promote its Paws Up for Pets campaign, a joint project with United Boys & Girls Clubs and Davey’s Voice that inspires compassion and accountability for animals among children K-12.

As part of the campaign, which launches end of September, C.A.R.E.4Paws is putting on a youth art contest for United Boys & Girls Clubs members with the theme “Animals Have Feelings, Just like Us!”

All submitted projects will be displayed in the youth booth and 10 finalists will receive prizes on stage at 2 p.m.

And there’s more. Visitors can meet “Little Star,” an amazing mini-therapy horse, and majestic wolf hybrids from WHAR Wolf Sanctuary.

Project PetSafe provides low-cost vaccines, microchipping and licensing for dogs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., while the festival raffle and silent auction features great prizes, including a trip for four to Disneyland.

The host of Wags n’ Whiskers, C.A.R.E.4Paws is a Santa Barbara County nonprofit whose mission is to reduce pet overpopulation, keep animals out of shelters and improve quality of life for pets and pet owners in need.

Services include free spays/neuters, bilingual community outreach, humane education and intervention programs that keep animals in their homes.

Visit care4paws.org/wagsnwhiskers for more festival details and a list of participants.

Contact us anytime with questions at 805-968-2273 or info@care4paws.org.

– Isabelle Gullo-Abitia is executive ​director and co-founder of C.A.R.E.4Paws.