Step-by-step: pet show
Who could resist seeing which dog wins the wettest nose
or waggiest tail competition at your very own pet show? Raise
children's awareness of animal welfare issues, while raising funds
for your school.
- Agree the parameters with the Head teacher. Send out a letter
to parents - this should include a form asking for details about
the pet, and requesting a small donation (around £1). Agree your
pet categories and choose your judges. Identify what jobs need
doing and seek out volunteers. Invite external organisations such
as a local wildlife centre or petting zoo to bring animals along,
paying attention to any specific requirements that their animals
have. Research external companies thoroughly and check that they
are licensed appropriately with your local authority.
- Send out a reminder letter - there's always a late-entry bunny
on the day! Adorn the school with enticing posters inviting people
to come along to the pet show - even if they don't have a pet.
TIP: If you've invited a local wildlife centre to
come along, include details in your publicity, and charge an entry
fee to visit their exhibit, announcing costs in advance.
- Check your PTA insurance summary to see what's covered. Any
third party suppliers attending your event will need to provide
details of their insurance before the event. Animals brought in by
families at your school are done so at their owners' risk and
should be kept on leads or in cages at all times. Complete a risk
assessment in accordance with Health and Safety Executive guidelines. Have
registered first aiders lined up to be on-site during the
- Make sure you have any equipment needed for the day itself -
tables, tea urns, rosettes, bin bags, antibacterial hand gel, etc.
Hand washing facilities should be available and be clearly
signposted. Boost profits by selling refreshments
and have a few game stalls to keep visitors
- Keep different types of animals separated and have staggered
entry times. Ensure owners stay with their pets at all times,
keeping them under control and (where applicable) in their cages.
Any 'mess' pets make needs to be cleared up by the owners. Award
prizes to winners of the different categories - these might be
vouchers for a pet shop, or other pet-related prizes.
RSPCA advice for running a pet show
- Both the pet owners and the PTA have a responsibility to comply
with the Animal Welfare Act (2006). Although the owner always has
legal responsibility for their animal, everyone must play their
part in ensuring the animals are well cared for during their visit,
with suitable accommodation, food and water.
- Consider your choice of animals - while it's easy to transport
rodents, these are usually only awake at night and are particularly
sensitive to noise. Animals like rabbits and rodents may become
stressed if they can see, smell or hear predators like dogs, so
consider this when planning. Levels of light, heat and noise must
be appropriate for each species.
- Consider temperament. Animals should be confident with new
situations, good with other animals and children, and be familiar
with basic commands (dogs).
- Specify that all animals should be in good health and have had
any vaccinations/parasite treatments.
- Will any dogs attending 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, at an event to which members of the public
are admitted on payment of a fee. The only exception is working
dogs with a veterinary certificate.
- When you are thinking of your choice of classes, judge on
health and welfare, not just appearance. Some animals are bred to
look a certain way and it can actually cause suffering. Good
classes could be 'best child handler', 'best behaved pet' and 'best
- The owner of an exotic pet has a legal duty of care to meet the
specialist needs of the animal. For more information read our
FAQs guide to running a pet show or go
to the RSPCA website.
a print-friendly PDF version of our step-by-step guide to running a
Pet show success story
Annie Snell, pet show organiser at Boxmoor Primary
School, Hertfordshire (236 pupils): 'One of the great
things about the pet show is that it is organised for the children.
We have five categories of entrant - dogs, cats (judged via
photograph), rabbits/guinea pigs, hamsters/other rodents and
'anything else' - over the last few years 'anything else' has
included a horse, a chicken, a crayfish and a caterpillar called
Curly! If it's well behaved, it's welcome. Rabbits and guinea pigs
are kept in a pen in the hall made from trestle tables and
scattered hay, whilst small animals are kept in their cages. Dogs
are outside on a large grass roundabout, and are taken home once
they've been judged. Their owners are responsible for any 'mess'
they make, and children are not allowed near the dogs. Last year we
invited a local exotic pet shop to attend the show. They ran two
30-minute sessions for groups of children. Their range of unusual
animals included snakes, lizards, spiders and millipedes. This was
a huge success and one which we plan to repeat. We charged £2.50
per child for the session. It was visited by many children from the
school - even those without pets came along. We served refreshments
and provided a few additional stalls to keep children occupied
while they were waiting for the judging, such as an animal quiz,
pin-the-tail and animal tombola. Last year we made approximately
Virtual pet show
For a quick and easy fundraiser, how about this virtual
Andrea Bradley, PTA Chair, Silkstone Common School,
Barnsley (155 pupils): 'Our virtual pet show is a popular
event. We send out entry forms four weeks before the show, which we
hold during the same week as Crufts. We give each child a letter
with a list of categories they can enter their pets into, e.g. best
dressed, most helpful, most unusual and best rescue pet. We also
have a 'borrowed' category, where children can enter a friend's or
family member's pet if they don't have their own.
Each entry costs £1.50, and we allow multiple entries to boost
profits. Some children only enter once, but some enter up to 10
times! At our last event we received nearly 200 entries, which is
fantastic for a school of 155 pupils.
To enter, children must send in a photo of their pet with the
pet's name, child's name, category and entry fee. Every entrant
gets a small prize of some stationery. Once all entries are in, we
sort them into categories and display them on pinboards for
judging. We're lucky enough to have an independent judge from the
Blue Cross to award first, second and third place in each category.
The winners of these receive rosettes. Once all winners have been
chosen, it's time to pick the Champion of Champions! The child with
the winning pet is awarded the highly-coveted 'Virtual Pet' trophy.
The trophy is engraved with the child's name and the year, a cost
that is covered by a local dog groomer, who also donated the trophy
and pays for the rosettes. We hold the awards ceremony in the hall
straight after school. The whole thing takes about an hour, and at
our last show we raised £370.'
NOTE: Read our FAQs to running a pet show.
The above is intended as guidance only. We
recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific
reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child
protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held
responsible for any decisions or actions taken by a PTA, based on
the guidance provided.
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