Exasperating Expo

I had been waiting for the pet expo since December 2013. The weekend had finally arrived and I was pumped. I was also excited to debut my newest pet parent shirt that reads: “Yes…I do love my dog as much as you love your child.” 


My husband and I had gotten up early (which is quite the rarity for us). I just knew that the parking lot would be packed and I wanted to be assured a spot. Penny, our beautiful tripod, and Hope, our blind/deaf double dapple doxie, seemed to be excited, too. Once Penny’s harness and leash were on, she began running around the house, wagging her tail wildly.


We drove for 45 minutes before we finally arrived at the convention center. Little did we know that an Anime Convention was taking place the same day! Penny hopped out of the car and raced toward the building. Compliments from unique Anime characters soon followed.


Carefully, we wound our way through the crowd to the sign in table. My husband began to fill out the mandatory waiver form. Then, one of the volunteers said, “Vaccination records, please.”

WHAT? We had to bring our dog’s vaccination papers with us? Matt tried to reason with the volunteer and asked if their new rabies tags were proof enough. She shook her head and said, “No, we need the records.”


I was shocked and angry. Who carries around their pets’ medical records with them everywhere they go? Nowhere on the hosting rescue group’s website did it mention that these records were needed. The woman looked at us with a “what are you going to do” look.


The way I saw it, we had several options:

1. One of us could go into the expo while the other sat outside with the dogs.

2. We could go home and bring the vaccination records (and the dogs) back.

3. We could go home and drop off the dogs and come back.


We decided to go with option #3. On the way home, we had a very heated discussion about the ridiculousness of having to bring vet records. I know that not everyone keeps their pets’ records in a binder like we do. I just happen to be a person that is obsessed with organization. Finding the records was not the issue. The issue is that this was not listed as a requirement in order to bring your pets.

My husband and I have been to many an expo. One other event tried to require such records. Do you know how long that lasted? Not even a year. The hosting site tried it once and quickly abandoned the idea.


People come from all over to attend these expos. Can you imagine if someone traveled for hours with their pet just to be told they needed papers that were back at home? What about all of the gas running to and fro?  And how come the rabies tags are good enough for the county, but not for the hosting group?


When we arrived home, Hope had become quite anxious. She is not a fan of car rides since she cannot see or hear. I located their records and noticed that their shots would be expiring in October 2014. Something told me that this wasn’t going to be good enough for the snooty volunteer. I could just see her saying that the records were from 2013 and needed to be dated 2014. We made the decision to leave our dogs at home, much to my dismay. I was looking forward to socializing our babies (and getting more compliments).


Just to make sure that I wasn’t crazy, I pulled up the rescue’s website. I scrolled down to the flier about the expo and I was right! There was no mention of needing anything in order to bring your pets. I even went to their Facebook page to see if a special announcement was made. Nope! I printed off the page from their website. I wanted the group to know that we were not trying to buck the system.


By the time we returned to the expo, we had lost an hour. I guess it didn’t do us any good to get up early after all. The snooty volunteer whispered to another volunteer, “They came back.”

Well, it is nice to know that our support of your rescue group is appreciated! We quickly signed the waivers. My husband then pulled one of the male volunteers aside. He explained that we were greatly inconvenienced by having to go back home in order to locate the records when they were not listed as being necessary for the event. The man apologized and said that “they had been getting that a lot.” He then stated that he had put a call in to have someone from their group place it on their Facebook page ASAP.


What good does that do if you are already in route to the event? Or at the event like we were? And he is assuming that everyone checks their Facebook updates in the morning. You should not have to double and triple check to see if an event’s rules have changed.


Personally, I think that since it wasn’t listed as a requirement, we should have been let in. What kind of irresponsible pet parents would we be to bring our fur babies to a place with strange animals if they were not properly vetted? I understand why the group was requiring the records, but they have had months to get this information across to attendees. Someone dropped the ball and is making the possible adopters/rescue supporters pay the price.


I have to admit that we were greatly disappointed in what we saw. They had listed crafts, training and more. All we saw was a lot of adoptable animals and some tables selling junk. I think that this event probably should have been labeled as an Adopt-a-thon instead of an expo. Then only the people interested in adopting animals would have been enticed to come and we wouldn’t have wasted our time.


Additionally, none of the sellers took debit cards! Everything was cash only. We rarely carry cash. Now we were going to be hit with ATM fees that we had not planned on. Not to mention that all of the merchandise was outrageously expensive. Some rescue groups wanted $20 for a t-shirt! I understand that the money goes to support great causes, however, we have been to other rescue sponsored events where the items were much more reasonably priced (and I could buy a ton of stuff).


My advice to other future pet expo attendees would be to always keep a copy of your pets’ most recent vaccinations on hand.  Hopefully, you will not find yourself in a similar situation.  But, if you do, you will be prepared.


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