August 18, 2011 10:00 pm  •  By ALYSE BACKUS of the Missoulian

Dogs across Missoula are gearing up for the Doggie Olympics.

That’s right. Doggie Olympics.

At Saturday’s Pet Fest in Caras Park, dogs will be participating in a wide range of events, from the Wiener Dog Dash to the Dress Your Best Pet Costume Contest.

Marketplace Media, along with numerous other sponsors, will present the sixth annual Pet Fest, which is western Montana’s largest pet showcase and adoption event.

More than a thousand people are expected to attend, and pets are more than welcome if they are on a leash and spayed or neutered. Pets need to be cleaned-up after and must be accompanied by an owner at all times.

Pet Fest educates people about responsible ownership of pets and provides a place to adopt animals.

Shelters are facing a large overflow of rescued dogs and cats that they can’t find homes for. By adopting these animals from rescue centers and shelters, the dogs and cats are spared from a life in cages or from being euthanized.

This year’s Pet Fest ups the ante by adding events to create the Doggie Olympics.

The ever-popular Wiener Dog Dash will be kicked off by Mayor John Engen.

Dogs can compete for the title in a variety of wacky events. Dogs will be rewarded for licking peanut butter off a spoon the fastest, lying down the longest and playing a canine version of musical chairs.

In addition to the Wiener Dog Dash and Doggie Olympics, the festival will feature a dunk tank. The victims of the dunk tank will include people from KPAX and KECI TV stations.

The festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Donations of pet food to AniMeals is strongly suggested.

Intern reporter Alyse Backus can be reached at 523-5240 or at alyse.backus@missoulian.com.