From cats and dogs to ferrets and alpacas – the Family Pet Show is an event like no other.
“The event manager thought I’d totally lost it,” laughs Carrie Mosley.
Mosley is recalling her decision, after launching the Family Pet Show six years ago, that the second edition of the show would allow visitors to bring along their own pets.
“You’ve got lots of moving pieces, and now you’re going to let people bring their pets!” she continues. “I did it on the basis that people really care about their own pets, and they’re going to be responsible for them. Touch wood, other than the odd leg cocked in an inappropriate place, to date there haven’t been any incidents.”
Mosley has had a varied career to say the least, working extensively with radio stations and running music events, awards and organising various listener holiday prizes.
“I’ve run a lot of events, I actually think I’m addicted to events” she continues. “It’s so exciting, you can create something; the flavour, the style, the involvement.
The popularity of the pet market first came to her attention through an online competition called the Pet Factor, where listeners could send in images of their pets and vote for their favourites.
“In radio if you’ve got half of one per cent of your audience engaged in a promotion then that’s a good, meaningful result,” she explains. Over ten per cent of the station’s audience got involved in voting. It was one of those lightbulb moments; people really love their pets.”
And so the Family Pet Show was born. The event includes Cat World, Exotic World, Dog World, Furries World (for the miscellaneous furry creature), and plenty of opportunities for visitors to watch, learn and play.
The show welcomes a range of owners and their pets to EventCity each year, usually dogs but occasionally a more unusual animal.
“A lady got in touch and asked if she could bring her ferrets,” recalls Mosley. “I said ‘we have to consider the pet’s welfare first of all,’ and she said, ‘I’ll just strap them in my pet pram’, and that is exactly what she did.
“She pushed her two ferrets around all day and they had a whale of a time.”
The welfare of the animals is front and centre at the show, says Mosley.
“We are very upfront about the fact that if you don’t act responsibility with your pet we reserve the right to ask you to leave,” she explains. “We also work with about 30 students who are on animal health management courses and they act as stewards and patrol the walkways and make sure that everyone is looking after their pet.”
The show also has an onsite vet, emergency offsite vet and strategically placed hand sanitiser and water stations.
A joy for Mosley has been seeing the way both the show and the industry have evolved over the years. The 2018 edition of Family Pet Show will feature an all-new area – The Marketplace – which is both a response to feedback from visitors requesting more shopping at the show and a chance for smaller companies to exhibit. At the other end of the scale, sponsor Felix cat food will be introducing an augmented reality experience to the show, where Felix the cat will run around, pop out of boxes and sit on visitors’ laps.
While working with children and animals may be a recipe for televisual disaster, it seems like a sure-fire route to event success.