In this economy, most business owners would never stop selling a product that was bringing in 50 percent or more of its income. However, that is precisely what Rene Karapedian did with his pet store, PetRush in Glendale, California. His store offered customers the usual pet food and supplies. He was also selling breeder-supplied puppies, his most lucrative product. Because of a concerned local resident, Christy Schilling, Rene saw the light.
Christy, along with her friend Katya Lidsky – who is also an animal rescuer – walked into the store one day and talked with Rene about the cruelty involved with puppy mills. Rene, however, had been assured that his dogs were not from mills. He later found out that he had been deceived. After listening to them and now convinced that the puppy brokers from whom he had been buying had misrepresented the origin of the puppies, he began to work with Christy and Katya to convert his business to a humane pet store.
He and Christy decided to educate the public as well, so they started to work on getting a weekly mobile pet adoption at the Saturday Kenneth Village Farmers’ Market which is located in front of PetRush. Christy contacted Best Friends Animal Society and the Jason Heigl Foundation, an L.A. based pet rescue organization. After two months of work, they held their first mobile adoption program.
Rene went to the Riverside (California) Animal Shelter which receives a large number of dogs on a regular basis. Upon discovering the number of puppies that were being euthanized, Rene realized that he could bring many of them to his store and adopt them out instead of selling the breeder-supplied dogs. By putting the puppies in his store front window, people who would not otherwise visit a shelter could see lovable, cuddly puppies. The puppies in turn, could get used to people in their new ‘transition home.’
Rene still hasn’t made up for the income he lost when he stopped selling breeder-supplied puppies, but he is now offering more services to customers including grooming, doggy day care, training, pet sitting, and dog walking. He is hopeful that his business will increase. People, including myself, who had otherwise been avoiding his business because of the sales of breeder puppies, are starting to become customers.
Think about your community. Are there stores that sell breeder puppies? Think about how these two people, Christy and Katya, were able to convince a person who had been in the pet store business for more than ten years to make a huge change in the way he does business, and as a result, are saving many dogs. It might take a lot of courage to make that initial contact but there are a number of organizations such as Best Friends (www.bestfriends.org) that can assist you in your area.
© Bruce Malter, PawPassion.org
1420 W. Kenneth Road
Glendale, CA 91201
Phone: (818) 956-0029