“There are many commandments in the Torah where God tells us it’s our duty to take care of all God’s creatures — whether they have two feet or four feet, whether they’re furry or non-furry.”
The glossy-coated Doberman sat as still as a statue in the middle of the gymnasium at the Katz JCC. There were people walking between banner-draped tables and dogs sniffing each other and pulling on leashes, there was a DJ booth and what looked like a Tony the Tiger bounce house.
It was a busy scene at the JCC’s first-ever Pet Expo, but the Doberman remained calm, its gaze fixed on its trainer, who stood off to the side.
The dog’s obedience was a demonstration of the services offered by Absolute Control Dog Training, one of the 20 South Jersey businesses that came out to Cherry Hill on June 5 to staff exhibitor tables. Other dog trainers were also there: At Sit Means Sit Dog Training’s table, Xanya the German Shepherd sat quietly with a rubber tongue-shaped toy in her mouth, unfazed by the many people petting her and taking photos.
Officers from the Cherry Hill Police Department’s K9 Unit were also in attendance.
A number of veterinary clinics had tables, including Cherry Hill’s Animal & Bird Health Care Center, which drew plenty of curious visitors with its three birds: a Moluccan cockatoo named Peaches, a black and white Silver-Laced Polish chicken named Carol and a puffy Silky Chicken named Toad.
“Backyard chickens are an increasing trend in New Jersey,” said Liz Vetrano, one of the center’s certified veterinary technicians. “We brought the chickens because we wanted to show that we treat all kinds of animals.”
There were several animal rescue tables, including the New Jersey SPCA and the Voorhees Animal Orphanage. Scott Borsky sat at his table and handed out fliers for Cantor Scott’s Animal Rescue Center, a nonprofit that focuses on New Jersey’s feral cat population.
“There’s a large problem in South Jersey with stray cats,” said Borsky, who started his rescue with one cat, and then got hooked. “It’s a daily blessing to feed and shelter and adopt and spay these cats. There are many commandments in the Torah where God tells us it’s our duty to take care of all God’s creatures — whether they have two feet or four feet, whether they’re furry or non-furry.”
Borsky jumped at the chance to have a table at the Pet Expo.
“It’s an opportunity for me to promote the welfare of the cats,” he said.
Stephanie Dworkin, Katz JCC’s marketing director, said they did a lot of research and outreach to get a good mix of exhibitors for this inaugural event.
“We know that pets are members of the family,” she said. “We’re happy that people took our advice and brought their dogs along.”
Cherry Hill resident Dave Goodstadt brought his dog, Darwin, a Goldendoodle — “like every other dog here,” he said, noting the high number of “doodle” dogs. Darwin wore a blue and red bandana around his neck from Republic Bank, one of the two official event sponsors (the other was Petplan).
Goodstadt came to the event with his wife and daughter, he said, “for all the pet stuff. And so he can mingle,” he said of Darwin, who was happily allowing children to stroke his soft fur.
Along with the tables, there was plenty to do: face painting for children, a photo booth where people could have their picture taken with their dog, a best-dressed pet contest and health tips broadcast over the PA.
The gym was crowded and lively.
Dworkin was pleased by the turnout, especially given it was a first-time event: “We’ve had a nice stream of traffic,” she said.
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