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Pet show features products, breed rescue groups

Children feed animals inside the mini zoo during Saturday's Chicago Pet Show at the Kane County Fairgrounds.
Children feed animals inside the mini zoo during Saturday's Chicago Pet Show at the Kane County Fairgrounds.

ST. CHARLES – Big dogs with bows on their collars, little dogs in pink tutus and medium dogs with colorful scarves pranced, played and socialized Saturday, as the canines and dog lovers converged Saturday at the St. Charles Chicago Pet Show at the Kane County Fairgrounds.

The show features a variety of vendors for pet products, pet rescue organizations – covering dogs, cats and other animals – raises money for a variety of rescue charities and offers activities such as pony rides, a mini zoo, demonstrations of search and rescue dogs and other presentations.

The event was just the ticket for Erica Wagonner of Geneva, who was lugging a bag of goodies to take home for her dog, Ziggy, a Boston terrier.

"Oh I saw the cutest potbellied pig," Waggoner said. "I might have taken him home if somebody had not already adopted him."

The show's goal is for 200 adoption and foster care applicants to sign up, according to the organization's website,

Rescue groups abounded, each presenting the best of their various breeds, from pit bulls to hounds, mutts to purebreds.

Mary Greenwald of True Hearts of Rottweiler Rescue said her group wants to educate the public about owning a Rottweiler, a sturdy dog bred to herd cattle in Germany.

"Many people don't understand the breed," Greenwald, of Grayslake said. "They are great dogs that make great pets – maybe not for everyone – you have to know the personality so it's the right fit."

Anne Copeland with the Greater Chicago Cavalier Rescue, was among the various breed rescue groups featured at the show.

"The dogs that we have are rescued from various situations," Copeland said. "They may be puppy mills, rescue dogs. A lot of the mills are shutting down because of new laws. We will take any Cavalier, any condition, any age. Some of the dogs we get are owner turn-ins because their circumstances change. We will take those dogs."

Copeland said all their dogs are fostered in a home to make sure they are healthy and housebroken and some obedience training.

"Especially the mill dogs, they learn what grass is and to sleep on a sofa," Copeland said. "They are very loving, very gentle and easy to train because they are very food motivated … We have rescued over 350 Cavaliers."

Another rescue group, Second Hand Snoots, was represented by Erica Brown.

"It is an all-breed dog and cat rescue," Brown said. "We focus on special needs, injured or sick animals that a lot of rescues can't necessarily take. And for animal control, [they are] usually the first ones to be euthanized."

Bob Whalen of Rockford invented the Pet Loader, a collapsible staircase to allow dogs easy access into cars and vans. His dog, Roscoe, a yellow lab, demonstrated going up and down the stairs.

"We had a 100-pound labrador that tore both of her ACLs and we had to lift her up to get her into the car," Whalen said. "So I invented Pet Loader. It folds into the size of a small suitcase and will fit any dog, from a massive great Dane to a Chihuahua."

Whalen said he considered that people are vertical but dogs are horizontal, so he designed a horizontal stairway that is made entirely in Illinois and sold all over the world.

"We have great Danes that have our product in St. Petersburg, Russia," Whalen said. "We have dingos in Australia that use our product. We have mastiffs in the United Kingdom."

The show's atmosphere also encouraged pet owners to bring their dogs to socialize and show off.

Teri McDermott-Holzman brought her cocker spaniel, Princess Leia, to see and be seen.

"I'm here because I love dogs," McDermott-Holzman said. "I'm buying stuff for the dog and for general entertainment. I love dogs, I love dog people and I love the idea of rescues."

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