Metro Detroit Pet Expo has basketball-dunking dogs

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jan 16, 2014 in Rat News | Subscribe

Bart — a 4-year-old beagle mix from Redford Township — stood shyly next to his owner inside the Metro Detroit Pet Expo in Novi.

“I’m trying to show him — look at all the dogs,” said his owner Teresa VanHook, trying to coax her pooch into looking around.

Scores of other dog owners took their pets for indoor walks Saturday at the annual Pet Expo.

“We always encourage people to bring their pets,” event manager Liz Szlaga said. “Cats don’t do so well here, but dogs are fascinated,” Szlaga said.

The three-day event, which ends today at the Suburban Collection Showplace, is expected to draw about 5,000 people to see dogs leap into a giant pool; watch a basketball-dunking Doberman and volleyball-playing Sheltie; adopt pets from 32 rescue agencies; view the latest in pet products, and enter today’s ugly dog contest at 2 p.m.

Besides the numerous dogs and cats on display, the expo features pet rats from the Great Lakes Fancy Rat Association, two dozen parrots in brilliant plumage from the Rainbow Feather Bird Rescue group and sugar gliders — diminutive cousins of flying squirrels that fanciers say make great pets.

“We only bring birds to the show that we know don’t bite,” said volunteer Charles Dixon, 57, of White Lake Township, as others handed cockatiels to visitors to let sit on their arms or shoulders.

The event’s main sponsor is the Ann Arbor-based Humane Society of Huron Valley, which hopes visitors will ultimately adopt hundreds of the dogs, cats, birds, rodents and more, said the society’s marketing director Deb Kern.

Her group is collecting donations of pet food to help its volunteers support animals through the winter, “our slowest time” for donations, Kern said.

Any donation of new, unopened pet food that is not past a marked expiration date qualifies for $2 off the donor’s ticket price, she said. The group takes in about 10,000 animals a year and turns away no animals, Kern added.

Most visitors to the Pet Expo were there just to watch, such as Beth Slaven, 40, of Walled Lake. Slaven and her husband Dave Slaven, 48, own three dogs and a cat, she said.

“This way, she can see all these animals and not have to bring them home,” Dave Slaven said with a smile.

Contact Bill Laitner: 586-826-7264 or

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