ST. CHARLES • A pet show that expected thousands of attendees this weekend was unexpectedly canceled because, organizers claim, a vengeful accountant believed one of the event leaders was the Antichrist.
It was not how most expected the animal event to turn out.
St. Louis company Amazing Pet Expos was scheduled to host the ninth annual St. Louis Pet Expo Saturday and Sunday at the St. Charles Convention Center.
The company organizes pet expos nationwide, events where people can buy pet products from vendors, adopt animals, participate in animal costume contests and watch pets run obstacle courses.
But about a week before the St. Louis show, the convention center put the kibosh on the event, claiming the company did not meet contractual obligations.
Some 170 vendors paid to show at the event, which, according to convention center estimates, drew up to 4,000 people per day in past years.
The vendors wanted answers. What they got was bizarre.
“She had come to believe she was a prophet tasked with writing a new book of the Bible, was Moses reincarnated, and that the COO of our company was the anti-Christ,” the statement read.
The company claimed the accountant was timing its chief operating officers’ actions, which she believed took place in increments of six seconds, six minutes and six hours, “thereby confirming he was indeed Satan,” the statement read.
The statement alleges the employee destroyed large quantities of financial records.
The company provided a copy of a protective order out against the employee and said staff went to police and filed insurance claims.
But the statement said the financial damage to the business was significant.
“The reality was that we are only about a dozen people, and this was like an atomic bomb,” the statement read.
Amazing Pet Expos staff did not respond to multiple interview requests Thursday.
This is just the latest canceled expo for the company.
Amazing Pet Expos has also canceled shows in Memphis, Nashville, Portland and Chicago this year.
In December 2014, the company pulled a show in Sacramento at the last minute, claiming the Ferguson protests made it unable to organize the event.
Complaints from vendors have also been widespread over the years, including 20 separate complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau in which vendors describe different shows that were canceled or rescheduled with little warning.
Many claimed they never received refunds.
Still, the company claims the St. Louis pet show will go on. The company sent an email to vendors promising that it will find a new location and date in early November for the expo and will refund all vendors who can’t make the new date.
But it has not yet announced a date or time for the event, according to vendors.
“Early November is next week. Why don’t they have any details?” said Tina Roe, who works with two pet nonprofits that bought booths at the expo: MO Min Pin Rescue and Missouri Lost and Found Paws.
The rescue paid $425 for a corner booth and the Lost and Found organization paid $450 for two booths.
“We don’t have big budgets, and it’s all run through donations, so that’s a lot of money for us,” Roe said. “And we just got another very sick dog. We need the money.”
Volunteers also took days off work to make the show, Roe said.
Roe said she requested a refund and the company responded that if she did not want to participate in the rescheduled event that it would give her the money back.
But the stories about so many unhappy vendors don’t make Roe optimistic, she said.
“We just want our money back,” she said. “This has been a sordid mess.”