Influencers Take Over Chicago Petcon

Jul 28, 2023

Chicago hosted its first PetCon – a two-day convention for pet owners – on July 22 and 23, 2023, drawing a selection of the internet’s finest pet influencers and content creators from the US and Canada.

Loni Edwards Lunau, the founder of PetCon and a pet-focused marketing company, The Dog Agency, started the convention to create a space for pet influencers and owners to come together – drawing over 1,800 people – and share the love of pets.

What Is PetCon?

The 6th Annual PetCon was originally hosted in New York, but came to the Windy City for 2023. Over 50 of the top pet influencers from all over the US and Canada, including dogs, cats, bunnies, and a celebrity duck from NYC, were doing meet-and-greets with fans.

The family-friendly event welcomes all pets and includes events like speaker sessions, an agility course, pet massages, and pet acupuncture. There are also pet-focused vendors in attendance, food trucks, and a full bar.

The convention highlights nonprofits in the pet space as well, including the ASPCA, The Humane Society of the United States, MCP Chicago Rescue Outreach, and the Determined to Rise Animal Foundation.

There’s also an adoption garden with pets that are in need of homes from local rescue organizations. The available animals included 11 puppies, a Great Dane, and two bonded baby goats from Determined to Rise.

Influencer Appearances

PetCon brought a lot of pet influencers – including influencers of the four-legged, winged, and web-footed varieties.

One of the biggest stars in attendance was a duck named Wrinkle, who rose to fame by giving fist bumps with her bill and flapping her wings on command. Wrinkle is owned by a circus performer who goes by “Human Name” (actual name Justin Wood). He raised Wrinkle from an egg, and she was the only one of the clutch to hatch. They travel together between California and New York for one-man shows.

Wrinkle goes by @seducktive on social media and amassed 700,000 Instagram followers, 1.9 million YouTube subscribers, and 4.3 million TikTok followers. Her accolades include running in the New York City Marathon twice and attending a meet-and-greet at the Mall of America.

Picture 1Source: Instagram

Another celebrity in attendance was Enzo, a young Shih Tzu from New York City. His owner, Olivia Caputo, is a beauty and lifestyle influencer who created a page for her beloved pooch — @enzoistheshiht. He stars in travel vlogs and gained over 41,000 followers on Instagram and over 100,000 on TikTok.

Picture 2Source: Instagram

Finally, the famous Ziggy the Corgi made an appearance with her own, Jess Ramberg. With the handle @ziggy_thecorg, Ziggy is a huge deal in the corgi racing world. She’s raced all over the country at recreational corgi races, even participating in corgi racing halftime shows at NFL games. She’s also been on SportsCenter.

Picture 3Source: Instagram

Ramberg works in marketing for college athletes and invested her knowledge and energy into making Ziggy a social media star during the pandemic. Now, Ziggy has over 48,000 followers on Instagram.

Some other notable pet stars include Dahlia, a Maine coon cat and Sammy in the City, a teacup Yorkshire terrier.

Proceeds for a Good Cause

Influencers traveled from all over to bring their pets to PetCon, including some that came from Canada and Hawaii. Loni, the founder, is thrilled with the turnout, because the fun event is more than just an excitement for her.

A portion of the proceeds from PetCon go to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, a group that’s dedicated to giving animals much needed protection under the law. Loni got involved with the fund when she lost her pet Chloe to a medical error at an animal hospital. When it happens, she learned that there is now way to fight for fair legal compensation.

Under the law, animals are property. The compensation for loss is simply “replacement cost,” like a car or garment. To Loni – and many others – pets are family, not property.

There’s also more to the star-studded event and its pets. With partnerships that include some of the most prominent nonprofits in the country and locally, the event draws attention to pet wellness and adoption, including promoting the adoption of elderly animals, the ethics of pets as property, and sharing information on how to prevent puppy mills.

Creating a Space for Pet Influencers

With the growing investment in pet ownership and the sentiment that pets are “fur kids” or part of the family, it’s no wonder that pet influencers and events like PetCon are growing in popularity. It’s not just the human influencers, but their furred, scaled, and winged companions that generate buzz and engagement. And with brands like Tom Ford and Gucci taking an opportunity to promote products via pet influencers at PetCon, it’s clear that the pet influencer niche has nowhere to go but up.