Pet expo showcases animals and owners

Anne Davis and Desi

NILES — Pets and people of all kinds are welcome at the Northeast Ohio Pet Expo at the former Super Kmart building at the Eastwood Mall complex.

The event began Saturday and continues 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.

“It’s all about the pets,” said Judi Henninger, the event coordinator. “We wanted a fun and informative event for pets to be brought in and interact.”

The event featur3es horse rides, pet food and accessory vendors, color therapy and demonstrations by Sit Means Sit Dog Training, who sponsored the event along with Pet Lodge USA of Boardman.

Sit Means Sit offers a unique approach to dog training that focuses on communication through attention.

“Sometimes the owner wants the dog to do tricks like opening the refrigerator and grabbing a bottle of water, others want their dog to behave and stop pulling on their leash,” said Melissa Stimko, owner and trainer for Sit Means Sit. ” We’ll work with the dog to see what the dog needs. Just like children, every dog is different.”

Brandy Swauger and Tyler Holberook of Cortland brought their Belgian malinois, Jag, to check out the training booth so he would stop chasing everything he sees.

“I saw the ad on facebook and wanted to check out what they had,” Swauger said.

Anne and Larry Davis of Mahoning County brought their 2-year-old mini golden doodle Desi to the event because she is training to be a therapy dog through Sit Means Sit.

“We came because we support anything pet related and we figured it’d be good practice for Desi to be around this many people,” Larry said.

While the event features a lot of dog-related booths, all types of pets made an appearance including cats, birds and larger pets, like horses.

One vendor, Scott Genova, of Poland, builds bird stands and came to the expo because as a bird owner, he doesn’t usually see much dealing with birds at events like this.

“It all started with the Columbus Pet Expo years ago. They had very little for birds, almost as if it was an afterthought,” Genova said.

He said many people have had birds in the past, but don’t anymore and he’d like to inspire more people to get a pet bird.

The event is also a fundraiser for local rescues including the Birds in Flight Sanctuary, Angels for Animals, Falcon Animal Rescue and Saint Francis Pet Care.

Raja, a 250-pound “pony dog” American mastiff is the mascot for Saint Francis Pet Care and was working hard to collect money for the sanctuary.

“He teaches children how to be compassionate toward animals through our compassion in action program,” said Maryanne Hoffman, founder of Saint Francis Pet Care. “I’m his assistant and he teaches people how to treat pets and how not to be afraid of them.”

The event attracted people from all over, including Ceanne Taylor and her seven-month-old German Shepherd named Ro, from Mercer County.

“I needed to get gas and when I saw the sign, I figured we’d come check out the treats,” said Taylor. “I was surprised at how much was offered.”