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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Great Lakes Pet Expo

Photo by Kelli Arseneau
People congregate around the Sled Dogs of Door County and their vehicle at a “meet the dogs” event.
 National Marquette Day is quickly approaching, but it’s not the only big event happening in Milwaukee this weekend.

This Saturday, Feb. 3, the 14th Annual Great Lakes Pet Expo is coming to West Allis, a Milwaukee suburb 10-15 minutes away from campus by car. Produced by the Alliance of Wisconsin Animal Rehoming Efforts, the event features vendors of both retail businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Located at the 140,000 square foot Wisconsin Exposition Center at State Fair Park, this year’s event is expected to pack the venue with an expected 14,000 attendees.

This will be the largest Great Lakes Pet Expo yet. “It has grown to 230 vendors,” Beth Enneking, AWARE executive director, said. “This year, we are completely filled out.”

A group of prominent pups who will make an appearance are Wisconsin’s own Door County Sled Dogs. A volunteer organization founded by husband and wife Rick Desotelle and Bonnie Ulrich, the recreational dog sled team has provided refuge for rescued dogs and brought joy and education to countless groups throughout the Milwaukee and Door County areas for the past twelve years.

For the Door County Sled Dogs, the Great Lakes Pet Expo has become a yearly event.

“The Pet Expo is a great, great venue. We encourage all pet owners and animal lovers to go to it,” Ulrich said.

Desotelle, who graduated from Marquette in 1980, and Ulrich are both retired Milwaukee educators. Desotelle has family in Door County, and after the passing of his grandfather, the couple bought his old farm and began to using the place as a spot for training rescue dogs. Now, the organization has helped re-home hundreds of dogs, and is the permanent home of 37 rescue dogs.

The Door County Sled Dogs and their group of over 60 volunteers spend the winter doing educational events in Milwaukee, while in the summer the dogs live in Door County, Wisconsin, at the Door County Sled Dogs Education and Discovery Center, which is both a sort of sanctuary and museum. “We see like 20,000 people in the winter,” Desotelle said. “And in the center up north, thousands of people come from around the country.”

One of the event’s main purposes is to give animal shelters and rescues another platform to reach out to the public.

Photo by Kelli Arseneau
The Sled Dogs of Door County will be just a few of the animals present at the Great Lakes Pet Expo.

“We attract a lot of people looking to adopt animals,” Enneking said. “About 90 nonprofits will be there, so we expect four to five hundred adoptable animals at the event.”

The list of exhibitors for this year’s event is extensive, including numerous dog, cat, equine, ferret and small animal rescues as well as humane societies, kennel clubs, bakeries for pets, miscellaneous pet product companies and more.

Expo attendees can also be on the lookout for some particularly notable animals and groups who will be in attendance. The Salvation Army will be there with famed bell-ringing mini horse Tinker and tiny agility dog Telula, while Howie the potbellied pig will make an appearance alongside a presentation of how pigs can make great pets.

Author Joal Derse Dauera of the book “Saving Sadie” will be coming with the famed rescue dog to speak about the animal’s remarkable story. After giving birth to a litter of puppies, Sadie was discovered with bullet wounds, left for dead. But, after therapy and rehabilitation, Sadie has been nursed back to health and is learning to walk again, which now allows her to travel across the country and help Dauera speak out against abuse and bullying.


For animal lovers, the Great Lakes Pet Expo is not an event to miss. And even for students who can’t imagine missing out on National Marquette Day, the event has an early start at 9 a.m. that could mean a quick stop by before returning to the Marquette festivities. For adults over 13 years old, VIP Shopping Hour admission (9-10 a.m.) is $15, General Expo Admission (10 a.m.- 3 p.m.) is $7 and Reduced General Expo Admission (3-5 p.m.) is $5.

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