Alex Wright didn't come to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay's 2009 Pet Expo looking for a new pet.
The airman 1st class was part of the honor guard that opened the event.
But then Chardonnay, a 3-month-old mixed-breed puppy caught his eye. He was hooked.
"I'm a sucker," Wright said as he sat at a folding table this morning signing adoption papers.
Meanwhile, Chardonnay - part of a litter named after wines - wrestled with her leash beneath Wright's chair.
Wright said he hoped the new puppy would be an adopted sibling for the 7-month-old beagle mix he and his wife already have at home.
Wright's story was repeated again and again Saturday as hundreds of people visited the Florida State Fairgrounds to get a look at the potential new family members on display.
Marti Ryan of Hillsborough County Animal Services said nearly 400 animals were adopted today, and dozens more applications were expected to be completed in the next few days.
Rescue groups and other animal welfare agencies offered up hundreds of pets for adoption. There are cats and rabbits and even hedgehogs. And there are dogs: big dogs, little dogs, wrinkly dogs and smooth dogs. There is even a dog on wheels.
Organizers hoped to match their last expo six months ago, which placed more than 400 animals with new owners, said Ryan.
"We want them to come and fall in love," Ryan said.
Harold Winans of Pinellas Park did just that. Winans fell for the big bulging eyes of a diminutive Japanese chin named Buddy. Winans sister, Nancy Hill of Seminole, get the dog for Winans as an early Christmas present.
"All my animals are rescue animals," Hill, a cat owner, said.
The adoption ended Buddy's month in the care of Animal Services.
Mark, a Springer spaniel, took matters into his own paws when it came to finding a new owner.
Released from his cage, Mark poured himself into the lap of Stefani Margolis of Tampa, who was sitting on the exhibit hall's concrete floor.
Mark rolled over and begged for a belly rub from Margolis and her partner, Michael Krassner.
"We said this was for research," Margolis said, ''unless one chooses us."