Not even flu concerns kept pet lovers away

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Apr 20, 2015 in Rat News | Subscribe

When Rusty the 9-year-old beagle went home to the Wehrle family two years ago, he had issues.

Lacie Wehrle said he flinched at sudden noises. He would get scared and sometimes growl. But all those symptoms passed and now he doesn’t even chase squirrels.

“He doesn’t want to be any farther than a couple of feet away,” said Wehrle, who came to the fifth annual Northern Indiana Pet Expo on Sunday at Memorial Coliseum with her daughters, Elise, 10 and Ella, 8,  and Rusty in tow.

The Wehrles found Rusty at the expo two years ago through the Allen County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the expo organizing agency. 

About 3,000 people attended the expo this year, down somewhat from the 3,500 who came last year, many attending with their dogs on leashes, said Jessica Henry, local SPCA director.

Another 600 people manned the vendor booths. Of the 100 vendors, 25 were animal rescue operations, she added. 

On Sunday, 112 dogs, cats, and, even two pet rats were adopted.

Saturday’s numbers were down, Henry said. It could have been that Saturday was a sunny, blue sky kind of day that had everyone outside, or it could have been news of the canine flu, the epicenter of which has been identified as Chicago.

“We do wonder if that impacted us a little bit this year,” Henry said.

Rescue operations were asked not to bring adoptable dogs and cats from the Chicago or northwest Indiana area and signs outside the expo asked those attending to not bring their animals inside if they had visited that area, she added.

Fort Wayne Animal Care Control spokeswoman Lindsay Pease said no cases had been found in the Fort Wayne area.

The organization had one two-month old puppy, Skylar, sleeping peacefully in her cage as music boomed and loudspeakers squawked at the expo.

A catahoula mix, Skylar had been adopted, said Margo Nussbaum, an official for Fort Wayne Animal Care Control.

Graham Hayden and his daughter, Zoie, 8, brought their Siberian husky, Noki. All of them were visiting the expo for the first time.

Hayden had heard about the canine influenza but said he wasn’t too concerned.

“It’s not like it’s the plague or anything,” he said.

The Rev. Joe Gaughan from Most Precious Blood Catholic Church in Fort Wayne, a dog lover himself, was on hand to bless the animals, something Sara Brown was eager to take advantage of with her 4-year-old English bulldog, Minnie.

“I live in Huntington and it’s not something, at least in recent years, anything the churches seemed to have done,” Brown said.

She said she wanted her dog to be blessed and to have a happy, healthy life, which is exactly what most people tell Gaughan.

“And they thank God for the love they share,” said Gaughan, whose favorite bumper sticker says, “I hope to become the person my dog thinks I am.”

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