CHICAGO
03/16/2011 04:10 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Chicagoland Family Pet Expo 2011 Kicks Off This Weekend

On summer days, Chicagoland's Arlington Park displays beautiful thoroughbreds, sporting smooth coats of auburn and chestnut. On March 18 - 20, however, the animals on display at Arlington Park will be of a more domestic variety. That's when the 19th Annual Chicagoland Family Pet Expo 2011 takes over Arlington Park, showcasing dogs and cats that need homes, as well as acrobatic animals and hundreds of pet accessory vendors. Show manager Jody Baum took some time to chat with Erin Chan Ding about this year's expo.

What can people expect from this year's Chicagoland Family Pet Expo?

We have over 300 booths, and they consist of pet products, like pet-themed artwork, dog collars and cat collars, leashes. We have pet-themed clothing and even pet clothing, pet furniture, pet foods and treats, toys and veterinary care companies that do pet boarding, sitting and training.

What kind of pets will you have at the expo?

We have all sorts, and we have many rescue groups as well. For the majority, we have dogs and cats, but we also have birds, rescued rabbits. We have sugar gliders -- they're kind of like a rodent.

Why was it so important for you guys to put "family" in the name of the event?

Pets can be part of the family, and there are things [at the expo] for everyone of all ages. Kids always enjoy the Ultimate Exotic Animal Encounter. They'll have an albino python and a hedgehog, and they have a fennec fox from Africa. It's an interactive show that allows kids and adults to touch and pet some of the animals while learning about respecting the wildlife.

What other entertainment do you have?

An entertainment thing we have that's new to the show is the Amazing Acro-Cats. They've been seen on Animal Planet ... [The cats] ride skateboards and rolling barrels, and they climb ropes. They even do a three-piece cat band, with one cat playing the piano and the others guitar and drums. It shows you that cats are trainable even though some people don't think they are.

For urban dwellers, what kind of pets work better than others?

I do know that a lot of people in the city obviously will own cats or smaller breeds. I tend to hear that smaller dogs are better for high-rises. I know Yorkies are very popular for people who live in condos. The pet expo is a great place to come and speak to people with different breeds and what works best for families and where they live.