Irresistible. Cuddly. Lovable.

How else do you describe the wide variety of puppies, kittens and other animals that can be adopted this weekend at animal shelters?On the eve of "Be Kind To Animals Week" May 3-10, the Humane Society of Utah and Salt Lake County Animal Services will join more than 900 animal-welfare and animal-control agencies throughout the United States and Canada for Pet Adoptathon '97.

Pet overpopulation is "still a problem and we're trying to bring attention to it," said Gene Baierschmidt, Humane Society executive director.

"We've got some great dogs and cats out here. We have 175 in the facility, and all are up for adoption. We're hoping to adopt 100 animals by 5 p.m. Sunday," he said.

The Humane Society shelter, 4242 S. 300 West, can "comfortably" accommodate 200 animals at one time. Absolute capacity is 300, he said.

Baierschmidt said, "We've got lots of puppies and kittens. The kittens are all different varieties. Some are black. Some are tabbies. The puppies (include) Lab mixes and German-shepherd mixes."

The news media had a chance to watch as animals were groomed and fitted with bow ties Friday in preparation for meeting prospective owners. Baierschmidt and Tony Hughes, area representative of Iams Co., national sponsor of the adopt-a-thon, were dressed in tuxedos for the event.

"We're trying to tell people that it's the politically correct thing to do to adopt an animal from a shelter. It's saving a life when you adopt an animal," Baierschmidt said.

Of all the animals at the shelter, "probably the overwhelming majority will be adopted. If not adopted, some will be euthanized," he said.

Humane Society shelter hours are 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. It costs $69 to adopt a dog or cat. The fee includes spaying or neutering and the first vaccination plus a free physical checkup from a participating veterinarian.

At Salt Lake County Animal Services, 511 W. 3900 South, new pet owners will receive an Iams adoption package, which will include Iams dog or cat food, a monogrammed bandana for the pet and information on proper pet care and nutrition.

Animal Services hours are 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The adoption fee for a female dog ranges from $70 to $100 and a male, $65. Adoption of a male cat costs $46 and a female, $60.

These prices include sterilization, a microchip (implanted identification in case the animal becomes lost), a collar and a visible ID tag, a leash for dogs and a carrier for cats. All animals adopted will receive a follow-up health exam. The cost of adopting any sterilized animal is $25, said Virginia Anderson, volunteer manager.

Door prizes will be offered every half hour both days at the county facility. Adoptive families will also receive a chance for free dinner at Tuscany restaurant. The drawing will be May 10 at Animal Services' third annual Cat Photo Contest and Dog Show Saturday, May 10.