Kate Upton, who is expecting her first child with husband Justin Verlander, is dedicating her Labor Day weekend to helping others expand their families — with pets!
The couple is hosting their 4th Annual Grand Slam Adoption Event, a special day created to help raise awareness for local animal adoption agencies and find homes for dozens of shelter dogs. The event will be held in Houston, Texas, for the first time, taking place on September 2 from 3:30 – 6:30 at The Plaza on Crawford Street at Minute Maid Park prior to the Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels baseball game. It’s all part of Astros Dog Day presented by Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Guests can expect games, music, food, drinks and lots of adorable, adoptable dogs.
Along with placing shelter dogs with loving families, the event will also help rescue canines find new, meaningful careers. Funds raised during this year’s Grand Slam Adoption Event will go to Verlander’s Wins for Warriors Foundation. The Houston Astros pitcher and animal lover founded the military veteran-focused non-profit to change the lives of veterans and dogs. Wins for Warriors Foundation will use donations from the event to take adoptable dogs out of shelters and train them to be service animals for military veterans.
Ahead of this amazing-sounding dog day of summer, PEOPLE talked to Upton about her new life in Houston, why this event is important to her and what’s next for her and Verlander.
How did this event first get started?
My whole family and I are huge dog lovers. I’ve grown up with rescue dogs all my life. After lots of visits to the animal shelter in my hometown, I was really inspired to host an event and raise awareness for the amazing dogs that needed homes!
What is the goal of this event?
The goal of the Grand Slam Adoption Event is to raise awareness for dog adoption, and to raise funds for dogs to be rescued from shelters and then trained as service animals for military veterans.
Why is this event important to you and Justin?
This event combines multiple passions of both Justin and mine. First, we’re both passionate dog lovers and have grown up with rescue animals. Also, we’re huge supporters of the military and veteran community. Justin started a charity called Wins for Warriors Foundation which focuses on serving those who serve this Country. The ability to work together to rescue dogs and to support military veterans is extremely important to us.
How has it changed over the years?
We’re on our 4th annual year of the Grand Slam Adoption Event, and I couldn’t be more excited about how it’s progressed and grown. Each year, we’re able to raise awareness and funds for adoptable dogs. This year, we’ve partnered with an incredible dog trainer, and all funds raised will go to a program to rescue dogs from shelters to train them to be service animals for military veterans.
Are there any new things you are looking forward to since it is in Houston this year?
I’m thrilled to host the event for the first time in Houston. It’s now been a year after Hurricane Harvey devastated the area, and there are still a lot of dogs who are in need of homes. Justin and I want to do our part to help that happen.
How can those who can’t attend participate?
We appreciate any support from near or far. Anyone can go to www.GrandSlamAdoption.com to donate or participate in our online silent auction. Proceeds raised will go to training for rescued service dogs.
Why is pet adoption important to you?
It’s important for me to raise awareness about pet adoption because there are so many animals in need of homes. No matter what you’re looking for in a family pet, there are all ages, sizes, breeds, and mannerisms to choose from. Why not look at saving a life first?
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How has the move to Houston been overall?
Justin and I love Houston and have felt incredibly welcome. I can’t believe it’s almost been a year!
How has your dog adjusted to the move?
Our dog Harley is doing great with the move but wishes it weren’t so hot in the summer!
Did your love for animals factor into your relationship?
It certainly didn’t hurt! I don’t think either of us could be with someone who doesn’t love dogs!
What do you and your pets have planned for the future outside of this event?
Justin, Harley, and I are expanding our family soon … so who knows, maybe we’ll expand our dog family sometime soon as well!