How to organise a pet show

Step-by-step guide to running a pet show

Image: Askold Romanov/

A pet show is a wonderful way to raise children's awareness of animal welfare issues, while raising funds for your school.


Agree your 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 letter to parents - this should include a form asking for details about the pet, and requesting a small entry fee (around £1). 


Send out a reminder letter. 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 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 and have registered first aiders lined up to be on-site during the event.


Make sure you have any equipment needed for the day itself - tables, tea urns, rosettes, bin bags, antibacterial hand gel, etc. Handwashing facilities should be available and be clearly signposted. Boost profits by selling refreshments and have a few game stalls to keep visitors occupied.


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. State that 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

Animal Welfare Act

Both the pet owners and the event organisers 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

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).

Animal health

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.

Don't simply judge on appearance

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 pet story'.

Exotic animals

The owner of an exotic pet has a legal duty of care to meet the specialist needs of the animal. For more information, visit the RSPCA website.

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 school, based on the guidance provided.