Families can bring their pets to Pittsburgh Pet Expo this weekend. They just need to be on a leash, like this Great Dane. (Pet Expo)

With Halloween festivities just a memory and no Steelers game this Sunday, pet owners and lovers will find plenty to do this weekend at the Pittsburgh Pet Expo Friday through Sunday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown.

It’s the 19th year for the annual expo, according to manager Rocco Lamanna, and the three-day event typically attracts 18,000 attendees. It’s billed as the largest pet expo in the country with competitions, entertainment, demonstrations, vaccinations and microchipping available to all who travel to the event.

Organizers expect 250-plus exhibitor booths, including 20-plus shelter and rescue organizations for people who want to adopt pets. Owners can bring along their pets — on a leash — and can let their furry friends participate in activities throughout the weekend, culminating in a pet costume contest on Sunday, the closing day, at 3:30 p.m. Val Porter of radio station 102.5 WDVE will serve as emcee for the competition for dogs of all sizes and competitors of all species, according to the event program.

A pet costume contest concludes the Pet Expo. (Pet Expo)

Seven new activities and presentations have been added for this year, including Pawsitively Famous, an open audition for pet models. Dawn Wolfe, the agency’s owner, invites owners to bring their pets all weekend long, according to event promotional material. No appointment is necessary; just bring your dog, cat, bunny, ferret or bird for a one-on-one audition.

A Zoom Room Agility for dogs is another new feature, Lamanna said, giving interested owners and their pets a look at a new indoor dog agility park concept that is coming to the area. The grand opening at its Cranberry facility is set for later in November, he said.

Other new features include Reptile Adventures, Pork Chop Revue, Ambridge Turtle Racing and Pittsburgh Racing Turtles, Rabbit Hopping, and Parrot Rescue.  Some are entertainment — those fun pigs and hogs — and others are educational and permit close-up looks at docile reptiles and parrots, for example.

Popular returning features include two dog-centered events, Dock Diving and Luring, Lamanna said. And the Doxie Downs National Dachshund Race, sanctioned by the International Wiener Dog Racing Federation and always an attraction, supports Dachshund charities.  

Dock Diving dogs draw a crowd at the Pet Expo. (Pet Expo)

A complete list of activities, some of which offer pre-event registration, can be found here. Many of the activities and performances will be repeated throughout the three days.

Lamanna said it takes two full days to set everything up on the 2 acres the event covers at the convention center. He starts planning the event in March. “We try to offer as much as possible for every type of pet,” he said.

The 2023 Pittsburgh Pet Expo is presented by Healthy Pet Products and is sponsored by UPMC Health Plan, Giant Eagle Pet Pharmacy, Dollar Bank, Invisible Fence, Pittsburgh City Paper, Fromm Family Pet Food, Zoom Room Dog Training, Just Pay Half and Odex.

Show hours are Friday 5-9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-7 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday evening is half-price night with adult admission of $6. Saturday and Sunday admission is adults 17+ $12, seniors 55+ $10, active military $10, children 6-16 $6, and children up to 5 free.

Tickets will be available at the door and in advance. Several discount admission offers can be found at the Pet Expo website.

More than 20 animal shelters will be bringing adoptable pets to the Pet Expo. (Pet Expo)

Helen is a copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but she's currently on strike. Contact her at hfallon@unionprogress.com.

Helen Fallon

Helen is a copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but she's currently on strike. Contact her at hfallon@unionprogress.com.