Pet show gives abandoned animals a second chance

An underbite with jutting teeth and drool weren't about to stop the Rogers family from kissing their favorite face Sunday during the Chicago Pet Show at the Kane County Fairgrounds.

"We've had bulldogs," Liz Rogers of North Aurora said after snuggling with a couple of adoptable pets in the Smooch A Pooch booth set up by adoptaBull, an English Bulldog rescue group from Chicago. "We love them. They are great dogs."

Her husband, Scott, snuggled with Shrek, a 3-year-old bulldog given up by his owner who is in the military and being deployed to Afghanistan.

"We've had a number of military families' dogs," said Laura Wessein, director of adoptaBull. "(This soldier) thought it would be best for the dog to find that forever family."

More than 150 pet-related companies and organizations filled the noisy hall all weekend. Dozens were rescue groups trying to place animals in new homes.

Erin Vest was showing off some of her unusual animals at The ERIN (Exotic Animals In Need) Foundation booth. Her Kane County-based group rescues uncommon pets that may be given up because the owners can no longer care for them, like the 13-pound South American rodent called a Patagonian Cavy. It drew attention because it looks like a cross between a kangaroo, a rabbit and a guinea pig.

Vest, a veterinarian technician in Lisle, said the animal can grow to 30 pounds. Her new organization is looking for land to use as a sanctuary for the rescued animals.

George Hallenbeck, of Lockport-based Illinois Parrot Rescue, hugged his 14-year-old macaw named Bridget as the bird grabbed at his spectacles.

"I go through a lot of glasses," he said.

He also had a smaller toucan parrot with an injured wing that drew a lot of attention because of its long beak.

"You can pet the birds," he told the crowd. "They can't hurt you. They can barely crack a shell to eat the nut."

The Chicago Pet Show is intended to teach potential owners about pet choices and quality of life techniques for their pets. Along with the dozens of pet rescue groups, there were pet services and pet products companies, magic acts, and pony rides. For each adult ticket sold, $3 will be reimbursed back to the rescue of choice.

  Erin Vest holds a Patagonian Cavy, a 13-pound rodent from South America, Sunday during the Chicago Pet Show at the Kane County Fairgrounds. Erin is the founder of The ERIN (Exotic Rescues In Need) Foundation, based in Kane County. They rescue exotic pets from owners who can't handle or don't want them anymore. John Starks/
  Bridget, a 14-year-old macaw, snuggles with owner George Hallenbeck, of Illinois Parrot Rescue, on Sunday during the Chicago Pet Show at the Kane County Fairgrounds. Hallenbeck said macaws can live to be 100 years old. John Starks/
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