Pet owners proudly showed off their animals as dogs greeted each other with sniffing, barks and and enthusiastic jumps during the sixth annual Vegas Pet Expo on Saturday.
The free two-day event, which kicked off Saturday morning at the World Market Center, offered pets a chance to socialize as their owners shopped for treats, clothes and accessories. The expo continues from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Exhibitors also offered free treats and information on training, spaying or neutering and other services.
Amid the barking, John Potash, owner of the Reno-based company Get Rattled, educated pet lovers gathered around his booth about the dangers snakes pose to dogs.
“We’re training dogs to avoid the sights, sounds and smells of rattlesnakes,” he said.
As his 17-year-old son Anthony Brennan handled a nonvenomous gopher snake, children carefully and curiously approached to pet the reptile.
Potash said it’s vital that dog owners and others understand it’s never a good idea to try to kill a snake and that snakes rarely attack unless they feel threatened.
The company provides lessons to teach dogs to avoid snakes, poisonous toads and porcupines.
“We like to give people a little education,” he said. “We always recommend, don’t kill it, just leave it alone.”
Just a few rows away, the Rev. Ann Thomas of Journey United Methodist Church performed pet blessings and also offered people whose pets have died a chance to light candles to remember them.
She’d already performed more than a dozen blessings just a few hours into the expo.
Some pet parents pushed their dogs in strollers while gazing at miniature hats and shirts. And dogs dominated the event, roaming the space, chasing a toy in an obstacle course and even having an occasional bathroom accident on the floor — though few fellow pet lovers batted an eyelash.
Las Vegas residents Terry and Beverly Burke, who were taking a jaunt around the hall with Minnie, their 6-year-old Great Dane, said their dog “completes the house” and makes it feel like home.
On their first trip to the expo, the pair said they were happy to have an opportunity to introduce Minnie to other pets.
“People would be surprised at how calm these dogs are,” Terry Burke said of Minnie and her fellow Great Danes. “They just love being around people.”
And it appeared the feeling was mutual. Minnie was just one of many dogs at the expo that drew comments and smiles from other pet owners and attendees.
Judy Luxenberg’s 14-month-old dog Promise stood on her hind legs and elicited stares of her own as she easily reached her owner’s shoulders.
The playful dog, who is part of the Borzoi breed, also prompted “oohs” and compliments as Luxenberg educated those seeking to pet the eager canine about the breed.
“That’s why she’s out here, so people can see what a Borzoi looks like,” the Las Vegas resident said.
Because she hopes Promise can eventually act as a support dog accompanying children as they learn how to read, Luxenberg said the opportunity to mingle with other animals and plenty of people was perfect.
The event also proved a good opportunity for her to see new products and the latest in training techniques as Promise socialized and basked in the attention, she added.
“Everybody should have the chance to feel the softness and love of a dog,” she said.
Owners wishing to bring their pets should ensure each animal is “on a fixed lead or in a carrier with proof of age-appropriate vaccinations,” according to the expo website.