Friendly dogs called out to customers at the Tractor Supply Co. in Gonzales last week as the store celebrated its annual Pet Appreciation Week.

Each year, the Tractor Supply Co. advocates animal care during the nationwide store initiative.

On Saturday, Tractor Supply in Gonzales had a sale on all its pet-related products, offered gift card raffles and giveaways, gave information about animal care, and hosted the Companion Animal Rescue of Ascension CARA, a local pet adoption agency.

“Pet Appreciation Week is one of our favorite and most successful events of the entire year,” said Tractor Supply Gonzales branch manager J.D. Smith.

“More often than not, animals become a member of the family, and there’s something really special about helping a family find and care for the perfect pet,” he said.

CARA, which is operated by volunteers, is focused on helping animals find the perfect home. The organization takes animals from the Ascension Parish Animal Shelter and fosters them until they are adopted.

“You adopt our pets like you adopt a child: We conduct interviews, home visits and fill out paperwork,” said Hope Papenburg, a CARA volunteer. Pets in CARA are vaccinated, spayed/neutered and micro chipped, Papenburg said.

The main goal of CARA is to provide a loving environment for the animals of Ascension Parish. “I have a love for animals,” said CARA volunteer and pet foster parent Niki Stephens.

“My husband said that I could not have any more. Fostering is the best way,” Stephens said.

Soon, CARA will expand its services to include the operation of the Ascension Parish Animal Shelter, where they hope to promote pet adoption at a bigger level, Papenburg said.

“So many animals are unwanted and neglected. We are saving lives,” Stephens said.

To learn about Companion Animal Rescue of Ascension, see carala.org.