OTTUMWA — There were smiles all around as children and parents got to pet Pig the pony or look at Bourbon the pot-bellied pig.

Attendees weren’t just limited to looking at Bourbon or petting Pig the pony; they also got to look at Emu chicks, a large white rabbit and could even consider adopting a cat or dog while at Heartland Humane Society Saturday.

Attendee Bridget Short came with her children and a friend. Short wanted to come to the petting zoo after seeing an advertisement for it on Facebook. “It was a nice day for a petting zoo and seeing the community come together to support,” Short said.

Not only did Short’s children have a fun time, 13-year-old Skyllar Welch did as well. Welch even said it was a great community event. “More kids should definitely come out,” she said. “It’s a great time for kids to interact with the animals.”

Welch and Short’s children were head over heels with Bourbon. Other kids and parents not only petted and looked at the animals, some even went to walk the dogs.

For event organizer Leslie Glosser, the petting zoo allowed attendees to not only enjoy themselves, but also consider volunteering at Heartland Humane Society or adopting a pet.

The planning process was not too strenuous for Glosser. She asked Heartland Humane Society Manager Josh Steele if she could bring in the animals (Bourbon, Pig the Pony, the emu chicks, the white rabbit and other animals) to the petting zoo to bring in donations.

Glosser’s petting zoo idea worked. It was a full house on Saturday, something Glosser wasn’t expecting. “We’re planning to do it again in the springtime, because it was so successful,” Glosser said.

Having a packed event wasn’t the only aspect Glosser enjoyed, she loved receiving donations and seeing the dogs socializing with others. Steele agreed with Glosser’s point. “A few donations allow us to get what we need like dog and cat food and cleaning supplies,” he said.

Steele also said the event was a “great idea” as it affected the shelter in a positive way. “We’ve had a couple of our long-term animals get adopted already today,” he said. “Those are bittersweet moments, because you’re used to seeing them every day, but you’re so happy they found their forever home and their family to go home. The big thing is getting the awareness out there.”

Steele said the petting zoo benefitted attendees in another light.

“It’s about brand awareness and to make the public aware of what we’re here about at Heartland Humane,” he said. “It’s not just us taking care of the dogs, but us trying to help out the community and have the community help at the same time. I hope they see what we’re doing here with a positive feeling. Knowing that we are making a difference for the community.”

“I hope the people say they had a great time being with the animals,” Glosser said, “because people who come here love to see the dog and cats. I hope they are taking the time to notice the dogs. We can’t thank everyone enough for the amount of donations. We hope the donations keep coming in to help take care of these animals. We’re appreciative of everyone who came out and donated.”

Chiara Romero can be reached at


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