FAQs: pet shows
When carefully planned and managed, pet shows make a
lovely community event. They can also introduce a wide range of
welfare issues to people in a practical and meaningful way. We
asked the RSPCA their advice on fundraising pet
Pet shows provide a fabulous attraction, either as part as an
event, or as an event itself. However, if running a pet show, there
is a responsibility from both the owners and the organisation to
meet the welfare needs of all animals attending. The Animal Welfare
Act (2006) is in place to prevent unnecessary suffering to animals
and, although the owner always has legal responsibility for their
animal, everyone involved must ensure that animals are well cared
for during their visit. This includes the provision of suitable
accommodation, food, water and not forcing animals to do anything
they don't want to do.
What types of animal should we encourage people to bring along
to our event?
Consider your choice of animals carefully - while it's easy
enough to transport rodents, these are usually only awake at night
and are sensitive to loud noises, so this isn't recommended.
- Animals attending the show should be confident around new
people and in new situations, good with other animals and children,
and familiar with basic commands to ease handling (dogs).
- All animals should be in good health and be up to date with any
vaccinations/parasite treatment as appropriate before they come
into the school. Consider asking owners to provide evidence of
- If you are charging a fee for admittance, you will also need to
think about whether any dogs attending will have docked tails. It
is illegal to show a dog whose tail was docked after 27 March 2007
in Wales or 5 April 2007 in England. The only exceptions are dogs
with a veterinary certificate.
- Several aspects of including cats at your event could cause
them stress. These include: the break in routine, transportation to
the event, the unfamiliarity of the place in which the event is
taking place, the presence of other cats and presence of unfamiliar
people. An alternative to bringing cats along could be to run a
photo competition, with categories such as 'cats sleeping in
Are there any specific things to consider when it comes to
Aim to provide defined areas for different types of animal. Pay
particular attention to their specific environmental requirements
and keep certain animals separated.
- Animals such as rabbits and rodents (which are prey species)
may become stressed if they can see, smell or hear other predatory
species such as dogs.
- Levels of light, heat and noise must also be appropriate for
each species. For example, rabbits can suffer from heat stress
while others may be particularly sensitive to cold.
- Consider the length of time that animals will be present - is
this likely to cause them anxiety? Will they have appropriate
opportunities to rest and go to the toilet? If an animal does
become stressed, they will need to be removed immediately so make
sure this will be possible.
- How far will the animals have to travel and will they be
transported in a way that means they won't be anxious? This is
especially important with visiting animals from external
We're thinking of booking an exotic animal company to attend
our fair - is there anything we should bear in mind?
If external organisations are bringing animals along, make sure
you're aware of any specific requirements that their animals need
so you can cater for them. Research companies thoroughly and don't
be afraid to ask if they are licensed appropriately with your local
authority. The RSPCA would have concerns about exotic species being
used in an event such as a pet show, as it would be extremely
difficult to meet their specialist needs, such as temperature
gradient, humidity, UV light and social grouping. As wild animals
kept in captivity, exotic pets have specialist needs that are
difficult to meet in a captive environment. Under the Animal
Welfare Act 2006, an owner of an exotic pet has a legal duty of
care to meet the welfare needs of the animal - including in a
temporary environment. Failure to do so could be an offence. Some
animals, such as primates, are unsuitable as pets due to their
complex needs and for this reason, should not be included in pet
shows. We would recommend that the organisers refer to the RSPCA's Performing Animal guidelines.
What sort of categories should we judge on?
When you are thinking of your choice of classes, it is important
to judge on health and welfare, not just appearance. Some animals
are bred to look a certain way and it can actually cause suffering
(for example, the RSPCA has concerns over the welfare of some
pedigree dogs). You might like to judge animals based on their
overall condition instead. Possible categories could be 'best child
handler', 'best behaved pet', 'best pet story', 'healthiest coat',
'best rescue story', 'waggiest tail', 'best at musical sit' (like
musical chairs), 'best object retriever' and 'brightest eyes'.
For more information
For more details about meeting the welfare needs of pets, visit the RSPCA website. Check with your
insurance provider to see whether any specific criteria
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