February 9-11, 2007
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Last year, when I first heard about the annual event known as the Super Pet Expo, I couldn’t wait to attend. The show’s promoters promised hundreds of pet products, pet adoptions, live entertainment, exotic birds and so much more. I was truly excited and planned for this event way in advance…and then the snow storm hit and I was unable to attend. This year, I was determined to make it – and make it I did. Saturday, February 10, 2007, found me in the long line that wend its way through the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center and into one of the most exciting expositions of the year. If you thought I was excited about attending, you should have seen the numerous animals that were standing on line with me. Leashed pets were welcome and, believe me, pet owners were more than happy to bring their furry and feathered friends to the event.
The mission statement of the Super Pet Expo is an admirable one to say the least: "To promote responsible pet ownership and help draw attention to abandoned pets available for adoption. To offer an educational and inspiring experience with various pets and wildlife through exceptional exhibits." I’d say that the founders of the Expo certainly fulfilled their mission statement! There were just so many exhibits and vendors and adoption agencies, I didn’t know where to start…several pups were with me on this one – they turned from side to side trying to decide which way to go first. I began following the tide, hitting tables left and right, hoping I didn’t miss a thing as I side-stepped roving canines, women carrying felines, cats and dogs in strollers, and even a duck in a cart.
True to its mission statement, the Expo drew attention to abandoned and adoptable pets by having a plethora of adoption centers at the event. The New Jersey Humane Police were there to draw attention to the plight of abused and homeless animals. Expo attendees could buy shirts for $10.00 as a donation to the New Jersey SPCA. At the Rogers’ Rescues table, attendees were given information about the rescue shelter that began its charitable work in 2002 and has since saved over 900 shelter dogs by fostering animals, interviewing adoption applicants, organizing fund raisers, and more. There were more rescue and adoption tables than I can mention here, but I was drawn to certain ones: The Husky House and Tails of the Tundra Siberian Husky Rescue, Inc caught my eye with their rescue dogs patrolling the area requesting donations, the Heavensent Bulldog Rescue folks asked us to be angels and adopt a bulldog, the Garden State German Shepherd Rescue, Inc. table had my full attention, having once been the owner of a German Shepherd mix, the Eleventh Hour Rescue is a volunteer based organization that saves dogs from “death row”, providing foster care for dogs living in shelters with strict euthanasia policies, the Companion Animal Rescue and Education or C.A.R.E. exhibit showcased the most adorable cats up for adoption, and one exhibit was a plea for donations for the most adorable Yorkshire Terrier puppy who needed surgery for a dramatic birth defect.
However, the tables that really tugged at the heartstrings were the ones dedicated to adopting pets with disabilities. Many people tend to turn away from special needs animal, never realizing that owning a special needs animal can be a truly rewarding experience. Pets with Disabilities is one organization that promotes adoption of disabled pets. The organization does much in the way of helping disabled animals find a home, citing that “disabled animals show a special kind of devoted loyalty to their caregivers.” They provide support for people whose animals have suffered disabilities due to injury, illness and/or birth defects. In conjunction with Dewey’s Wheelchairs for Dogs, they have also provided funding for many homeless pets in need of wheelchairs. People who truly wish to help these special animals are urged to adopt, foster, or donate to the organization, whether it be a monetary donation, material donation (diaper wipes, paper towels, biscuits, etc.) or just by spreading the word via paper or voice.
Animal rescue attendees weren’t limited to just our average every day pets. Wolf Visions is an organization “dedicated to the education, preservation, and restoration of the wolf." For a $5.00 donation, people could take pictures with actual rescued wolves. This was a special exhibit for me – I have loved wolves since I was a child and had never had the opportunity to get this close to such a beautiful creature of nature. Of course, rescued wolves were not the only exotic creatures on hand. Super Pet Expo attendees had the opportunity to meet a 9-week old tiger cub presently in the custody of a non-profit organization dedicated to saving big cats from extinction. Exotic birds, reptiles, and even an alpaca or two were on hand as well.
Of course, adoption agencies and shelters were not the only exhibitors at the Pet Expo. There was something for every animal lover there. Those of us who have lost a pet recently know how important it is to give their loved one an extra special send-off. Abbey Glen Pet Memorial Park is “dedicated to preserving the unique relationships that exist between people and animals.” Hamilton Pet Meadow also offers “a caring and dignified way to say goodbye to your beloved pet.” Both organizations offer cremation or formal burial services, however each provides its own special touches to ensure your needs are met. Abbey Glen doesn’t just cater to small animals – the facility offers the same care to departed equine friends as well. At Hamilton Pet Meadow, it is possible to have a special viewing of your pet prior to cremation or burial to help with the grieving process. Both facilities provide beautifully landscaped burial grounds for your loved ones.
If it was food you were looking for, the Super Pet Expo had plenty to offer. Innova EVO: The Evolutionary Diet offered free samples of its unique grain-free product. I must say, my cat loved every ounce! Pinnacle Feline was on hand to inform pet owners about its low carb, natural ingredients foods for cats. Nutro Products were there offering samples of their cat and dog foods – yes, my cat was very happy with those as well. NutraFuncFoods offered CiboRéale Premium Biscuits for dogs and dietary supplements for their human owners. But no table was more important to my kitty than the Greenies table. Prior to attending the Super Pet Expo, my kitty told me that if I didn’t visit the Greenies table and bring home samples, I might as well NOT come home at all. Happily, the folks at the Greenies table were more than happy to comply.
Folks that needed assistance in training dogs could speak with the individuals manning the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers table. Looking for aromatherapy products for your pooch? You need not have looked any further than the Tails and Paws Aromatherapy counter. Does your canine have a stress or arthritis problem? Do you think he could benefit from a massage? The folks at Pooch Masseuse, LLC were on hand to provide you with “sports, therapeutic and relaxing massage for the well-being of your canine companion.” Need a pet-sitter? All you needed to do was stop off at the Best Friends Pet Care table where you were provided oodles of information about boarding rates, activities, grooming, training and more. Animal Wellness and Jersey Tails offered free copies of their informative magazines.
If you were looking for animal-inspired items, there were tables aplenty heaped with the stuff, from embroidery and screen printing to laser engraving and more. You could buy shirts, pictures, pillows, artwork, calendars and more, all inspired by a furry companion. There were tons of tables filled with pet gadgets for you and your pets. Pet toys, poop cleaners, animal clothing (yes, I said animal clothing), grooming supplies and more could be found for all sorts of pets at reasonable prices. Vendors didn’t even mind if their wares were taste tested – I observed one curious pooch testing out each water bowl to see which one he liked the best.
If you were looking for excitement, there was plenty on hand. The folks at PuppyPlayground.com offered free test-drives of their equipment. I have to say, I’ve never seen so many happy hounds enjoying a park built especially for them. The Ultimate Air Dogs show was sponsored by Purina and Stop & Shop and featured athletic dogs running down a 40-foot dock and launching themselves into the air after their favorite toys into a 30,000 swimming pool. I had watched this event on television, but that was nothing compared to seeing it live. The Washington Township Police Department was on hand to demonstrate how their K-9 Police companions help them track down and catch criminals. Bird lovers were treated to an exotic bird show by Bill Middleton, otherwise known as the New Jersey Bird Man. The World Famous Chicken Man, Mark Andrews, treated viewers with chickens that could perform amazing tricks. Children were certainly not left out of this Expo. They were treated to informative puppet shows, pony rides and more.
With over 200 exhibits and vendors, it’s just impossible to discuss all there was to see and do at the Super Pet Expo. Quite often, my attention was diverted by some furry friend walking up to me and nuzzling my hand, looking for a pet on the head or a scratch behind the ears. How could I refuse such an adorable gesture followed up with such an expressive face? Impossible! Of course, the animals that I was distracted by weren’t just parts of the numerous exhibits – they were co-attendees at the Expo! But the owners didn’t seem to mind me giving their animals such attention.
The Super Pet Expo is an amazingly fun time had by all. With admission fees like $12.00 for adults, $6.00 for kids ages 4-12 and free for anyone 3 and under, the Expo will hardly put much of a strain on your wallet…unless you plan on doing some serious shopping to pamper your pets. For the most part, there are enough free giveaways and free events that you might not even need to open up your wallet. So far, there is only one more show scheduled to take place this year. The next Super Pet Expo will take place at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Virginia on March 23 – 25, 2007. If you are a pet owner of just an animal lover in general, don’t miss this event! It’s worth every penny!
For more information about upcoming shows, contributions, and more, visit http://www.superpetexpo.com.