Hi everyone - first post for me. If I have put it in the wrong place, please move it mods
I am after some thoughts from some level headed animal lovers. Please keep any flaming or self-rightious black/white thinking out of this thread, it isn't going to help.
A little bit of bio might be appropriate.... I am 30yo and currently employed as a (desk bound) professional. I have 2x7yo (inside only) cats and a 3yo GSD - all spoiled rotten. My wife and I are involved with our local GSD club and both come from families of animal lovers, including family members involved in not-for-profit animal welfare agencies and delta dogs. Like everyone else here, we love our furbabies.
I have secured enough capital and a good location, and am looking to open a pet supplies business. I am pretty well progressed with my planning, and am at the stage where I need to finalise layout, etc. Probably be looking at opening late Feb / early March, by the time all is right to go.
We weren't planning on selling live animals of any type - we have a fairly large site and our focus was more the petbarn / petstock type arrangement, as opposed to the "traditional" pet shop.
A family member does a lot of volunteering with a local animal welfare agency that focuses on helping pensioners to desex their animals, and finding homes for abandoned/unwanted cats and dogs, including unplanned litters of puppies and kittens.
She mentioned my plans to the president and secretary of the agency (who know me), and they have asked that I use the shop to help them find homes for the puppies and kittens they get.
They say that they are having trouble finding homes (both permanent and temporary) for the animals that come to them. The vast majority of animals surrendered to them are unwanted litters that come to them when the owners call them to get some help desexing their (new mother) cat or dog.
They also have relationships with a number of local pounds, and have apparently arranged for the pound's puppies and kittens to be handed over to them too - if they can find homes for them.
I have been thinking pretty hard about their request (a few sleepless nights), and am still unsure whether it is a good idea. I would be mortified if I took the plunge and was acting unethically towards these animals, and also if I was thought to be acting unethically - I know there is a lot of opposition from animal lovers to the sale of animals in pet shops.
The other issue is, of course, that a retail business needs to make an appropriate return on its floorspace, and meet its overhead costs. I am risking a hell of a lot of money on this venture, and my family's future... so that factor also needs to be honestly factored in to deliberations.
Thinking it through, I think I would only consider using my shop to find homes for kittens and puppies in accordance with the following principles:
- all kittens and puppies to be vet checked and desexed before sale
- all staff to be trained by an animal welfare agency in finding appropriate homes for kittens and puppies.
- potential adoptees to complete a questionnaire with trained staff member, including questions on motivation for adoption and what they want from their companion, understanding of the long-term obligations of adoption, suitability of breed, home, etc
- all staff members empowered to say no to prospective adoptor
- offer trial periods
- adoptors details taken and follow-up calls made
- kittens and puppies to have appropriate accommodation in the shop, not be left alone, and handled / given attention and love often
- kittens and puppies to only be rescued, not bought from mills and backyard breeders.
- kittens and puppies possibly to be taken from owners desperate to move on their litter (the "I can't handle this" types) but not paid for - instead I will pay for their mummy cat/dog to be desexed, and possibly some sort of shop voucher?
- I could take calm adult dogs into the shop on a temporary basis too (say for a weekend) - a "shop dog" looking for a forever home?
I am really in two minds with this, hence the post - it is a lot of added complexity and expense to the business, and has the potential to be viewed negatively if not thoroughly explained - hell, I am sure PETA types would frown on it no matter what. There is a lot of pressure to make sure I am doing it 100% right at all times.
On the other hand, done right I think it could be a really positive thing - by matching up desexed rescue cats and dogs (who might otherwise be lost to this world) to their new mums and dads, surely I am doing something positive? Surely by offering an alternative to the puppy mills and backyard breeders I am hurting them, not helping them?
Sorry for the rather long (and intense) first post.... but please let me know your thoughts!