Tampa Bay Pet Con location controversy has vendors concerned

By Kim Leoffler, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, October 13, 2017

A Hernando County animal rescue owner is concerned after a pet expo next month she paid for may not happen as planned.

  • Tampa Bay Pet Con location controversy has vendors concerned 
  • Location of pet con uncertain
  • Vendors afraid pet con will not be going on as planned

Now she wonders if she will be able to get her money back. But the parent company of the event says it is still happening.

Ruff Rescue owner Pam Simmons said the Tampa Bay Pet Con was an important way to raise funds for her small organization and promote animals ready for adoption. 

"I do t-shirts for different dog sayings and stuff like that. So I did go out and buy a lot more t-shirts to have a bunch more t-shirts made," Simmons said. 

After success in previous years, Simmons went ahead and paid the $400 to reserve booths this year and spend about $500 in merchandise. However, recently she heard from other vendors and on social media that the Florida State Fairgrounds where the event was supposed to be held, does not have the event on their schedule for November as advertised. 

It's concerning for Pam who said the money they get at that event goes toward their holiday dogs and is worried that without it more money will have to come out of her pocket. 

"We pick dogs for the holidays, we call them our holiday dogs and they have bigger medical bills, more things needed, so we'll take that in. We're still treating last year's holiday dogs this year," she said.

Bay News 9 contacted the Florida State Fairgrounds and they confirmed they do not have an agreement and aren't holding any dates for the event, saying the parent company, Amazing Pet Expo, had not paid for the 2016 event. They said checks given to them in 2016 had bounced. 

Shiela Rilenge, president of Amazon Pet Expo, told Bay News 9 that the event has not been canceled, and is still going on as planned. She said they have just come to an agreement with their venue and are waiting to announce where it will be until the contract process is completed. she said they also have a backup as well. 

However, some of their previous expos this year have been canceled. The company has had to cancel expos at the last minute this year in places like Portland and Chicago. 

Shiela said those cancellations were due to a former employee who falsified contracts with certain venues. She said those issues have been resolved with the current locations they are working with. 

Despite the assurances from the expo, Simmons said she isn't taking any chances and is still going to ask for a refund. 

Shiela said for any exhibitor or sponsor who would like a refund, refunds are processed within 30 to 45 days. If an event is canceled, she said refunds are normally issued within 30 days.