‘Pit Boss’ star headlines SPCA Pet Expo

By Geri Gibbons - For Times Leader
Shorty Rossi, right, of the television show ‘Pit Boss’, poses with Micah Hopkins, 16 months, who is riding Rossi’s pit bull Ares, with his grandfather Don Hopkins at the SPCA Pet Expo at the armory in Wilkes-Barre on Sunday. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Bernadine Burnette, of Plains Township, holds her 2-year-old Chorkie named Tia. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE – When Shorty Rossi snuck a pit bull out the back door of a rescue center in 2001, he thought he was rescuing her, but he now believes the dog rescued him.

Rossi, who starred on Animal Planet’s “Pit Boss,” told attendees of the second annual SPCA Pet Expo held at the 109th Field Artillery Armory that although his life had a rough start, his dogs have provided him with comfort and stability.

Rossi told attendees that although there were many pit bulls attending the event with their owners, not one had been aggressive.

“I think that a poodle and a Chihuahua were asked to leave,” he said. “But the pit bulls have been fine.”

Rossi, a little person, compared pit bulls to little people who, he said, are often judged by their outward appearance instead of their character.

He also encouraged those attending to volunteer a few hours of their time to help animals.

“You’re here for several hours,” he said. “You can put some time aside each week and work at the shelter.”

About 70 vendors provided quality pet products, education and even snacks for the pets’ human counterparts.

Vendor Barbara Nullet-Yackel was on hand to provide information about Murelle’s Place, A Senior Dog Sanctuary, to those who stopped by her table.

With dozens of pictures contained in several scrapbooks, Nullet-Yackel was easily able to tell the story of each animal – from an older dog with diabetes to a young dog with cancer to those with mobility challenges.

The mission of the nonprofit is to provide senior dogs with end-of-life care although some dogs are accepted until a proper home can be found for them.

On the last page of the last scrapbook is a picture of a turtle, which brings a quick smile to Nullet-Yackel’s face.

“That was my first rescue as a teenager,” she said.

Grant Whitney, of Scranton, attended the event with his dog, Maddie, a Dogue de Bordeaux.

“You remember the movie Turner & Hooch?” he said. “Well, Hooch was a Dogue de Bordeaux.”

Whitney said that Maddie was shipped to him from Rotterdam, complete with her name.

“It’s Original Love Van De Madroeholve,” he said. “But we just call her Maddie.”

Maddie was having a bit of a rough time dealing with all the other dogs and noise in the auditorium.

But when she had a chance to lay down at Whitney’s feet, she seem to settle down immediately as he petted her.

“She’s only 7 months old,” he said. “She’s a baby.”

Mary Jo Barberio, of Ashley, was waiting in line to get her cat, Precious, microchipped at a discounted rate.

“She runs right out the door, just like that,” she said. “So just in case, we’re here getting her microchipped.”

Sarah Hartman and Will Burns, both of Scranton, were bringing their dog, Millie, out in pubic for the first time.

As other dogs went by, Millie, a mix of Yorkshire terrier and chihuahua, simply turned her head while her tiny frame was totally enveloped in Hartman’s arms.

“She’s doing really well,” said Burns. “She seems to be having a good time.”

Shorty Rossi, right, of the television show ‘Pit Boss’, poses with Micah Hopkins, 16 months, who is riding Rossi’s pit bull Ares, with his grandfather Don Hopkins at the SPCA Pet Expo at the armory in Wilkes-Barre on Sunday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/web1_TTL043018PetExpo1-2.jpgShorty Rossi, right, of the television show ‘Pit Boss’, poses with Micah Hopkins, 16 months, who is riding Rossi’s pit bull Ares, with his grandfather Don Hopkins at the SPCA Pet Expo at the armory in Wilkes-Barre on Sunday. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Bernadine Burnette, of Plains Township, holds her 2-year-old Chorkie named Tia.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/web1_TTL043018PetExpo2-2.jpgBernadine Burnette, of Plains Township, holds her 2-year-old Chorkie named Tia. Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Shorty Rossi makes appearance at SPCA event

By Geri Gibbons

For Times Leader

Reach the Times Leader newsroom at 570-829-7242 or on Twitter @TLnews.

Reach the Times Leader newsroom at 570-829-7242 or on Twitter @TLnews.