by Michael J. Shapiro | May 01, 2008

Be they dogs, reptiles, cream-colored ponies or whiskered kittens, animals can draw big crowds to exhibitor booths. But imposing some ground rules for exhibitor wildlife is crucial. Debrah Schnackenberg, interim vice president of Animal Protective Services for the Denver-based American Humane Association, recommends 10 rules for exhibitors to follow. Show organizers might choose to make such rules preconditions for animal-toting exhibitors.

1. Choose an animal that is well trained, comfortable with strangers and predictable when facing a wide array of situations.

2. Be sure the animal is clean and well groomed.

3. Provide documentation that the animal is healthy and current on all vaccinations.

4. Be sure to have ample supplies of food and water on hand.

5. Establish an outside area where the animal can relieve itself. Indoor messes must be cleaned up immediately.

6. Provide booth signage that clearly announces the presence of the animal.

7. Be mindful of attendees who are allergic or uncomfortable around certain animals.

8. Don’t allow the animal to wander without supervision. All animals should have ID tags or microchips in case of accidental breakouts.

9. Keep the animal away from dining and food-preparation areas.

10. Stay alert for possible signs of stress. Even seasoned working dogs should be limited to two-hour shifts.