It’s impossible to avoid dogs in Downtown Los Angeles. Thousands of residents walk their pets on local streets (and hopefully clean up after them), new residential buildings are increasingly offering canine-focused amenities, and one of the Central City’s biggest retail trends is the influx of pet supply stores and grooming salons.
Given that background, the annual Dog Day event was an early adopter of community-canine affinity. But as the 13th annual happening approaches, there’s a big change.
On Wednesday, July 10, more than 2,000 living creatures — an estimated 1,000 dogs and 1,200 of their two-legged companions — will congregate on the upper plaza level of the Figat7th shopping center, at Seventh and Figueroa streets, for Dog Day. The 6-9 p.m. event, organized by the Downtown Center Business Improvement District, is free and open to the public, and includes booths for local pet supply businesses as well as puppy adoptions.
The BID asks that people RSVP in advance on its website. The event is solely for Downtown dogs.
The change involves location. The first dozen Dog Days took place at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The shift wasn’t based on the size of the venue, according to DCBID President Suzanne Holley, but rather out of a desire to bring in new people.
“We’ve found that even though Downtown L.A. is relatively small, you’ll be able to access a lot of different people by going to a different area,” Holley said.
Leah Ross, retail marketing coordinator for Brookfield Properties, which owns and manages Figat7th, said that the landlord has been trying to use the mall for more community events in recent years — its efforts include a free summer concert series — and given how much people in Downtown love dogs, it made sense to host Dog Day.
Participating local businesses that will offer information and goodies include Pussy and Pooch. Other businesses, such as DTLA Vets, will provide vaccinations and other services for dogs. There will also be snacks and music for humans.
Despite the large crowds and the type of dogs that show up — everything from Pomeranians to wolfhounds — organizers say Dog Day is generally peaceful and the canines never get too worked up. Speeches are kept to a minimum.
“It’s kind of an amazing thing, with hundreds and hundreds of dogs, and they are the most well-behaved dogs,” Holley said. “I never see them get into fights, and of course our cleaning crew will be there to clean up after them.”
Dog Day was founded as a community-building event, and Hal Bastian, a business consultant and former DCBID employee who helped start it, has long noted how strangers will begin conversing when they realize they have a shared interest in dogs. Ross said she expects that people who stop by will likely run into a neighbor or someone they work with.
Those who arrive solo don’t have to leave that way, as the nonprofits Watts Project and Mutt Scouts will be offering puppies for adoption. Holley said that numerous dogs find homes at every Dog Day. She acknowledged that each year she personally comes “this close” to adopting one.
Dog Day started when the residential transition in Downtown was just getting underway, but in a vastly different Central City, Holley said it is still important. Instead of helping a small community come together, she noted, it’s a way for people to interact in an increasingly crowded area.
“It’s really a great way for neighbors to meet each other in a positive environment,” she said. “You cannot help but feel good when you’re around all of these dogs.”
Expect the feel-good vibe to be widespread, with plenty of smiles and wagging tails.