The question I receive most in regards to my future career pursuits is how did the decision for small business within the pet industry come about and what specifically is it that I want to do. Aside from seemingly being born with a canine obsession gene and having the deepest desire to own a dog of my own since a young age, sophomore year of college is truly when I began to form ideas of pursuing this route. Just to supply you with a further bit of background, I enrolled at Rutgers University with the intent of earning my bachelor’s degree in animal science and planned on continuing to vet school. Well, after completing a year of core science classes and learning more about other career opportunities working with animals, I came to the realization by the time we had to declare our majors that prevet was not my only option and in fact, I could make a living working with dogs and doing so in more exciting and rewarding ways than I could have ever imagined.
I would say the following three factors led to the root concept that started it all: 1) Learning that business, not sciences, were my forte; 2) Always being a proponent of adoption over pet store purchases and opposing any puppy mill type practices; and 3) Being my own boss and working day in and out doing something I’m truly passionate about. Hence, after doing hours of research and working on a business plan instead of studying for my organic chemistry exams, I came up with the idea that I ultimately desire to pursue long term, above all else. Specific details I’ll keep under wraps, but essentially if there was a way to add value to shelter and rescue dogs by getting them proper vet care/grooming/training, presenting them in the environment of an upscale pet store, and coupling it all with high end luxury products would be not only a socially rewarding but also profitable business model.
Ideally, this is a model I wish to see implemented nationwide to assist in the elimination of puppy mills and mass breeding practices, and the only similar model I have yet to come across is a place called Orange Bone in Melrose, CA. Admittedly having previously functioned as a typical pet store, the owner partnered up with Last Chance for Animals Rescue a few years ago, and ever since, it has grown its presence amongst the public and celebrities alike, providing the most modernized products and services to cater to dog owners’ needs while alleviating the rescue of congestion. (Click here to learn more: http://www.orangebone.com/ )
Orange Bone storefront; Los Angeles, CA
Photo credit: JCLABoutique.com
The following is the abstract to my business plan (with the omission of the store name) to give you a better idea:
This proposal investigates the issues facing the current state of the pet industry and analyzes the sources from which dogs can be adopted. It offers an approach that is not presently commonplace, though would provide an alternative that would result in not only profitable outcomes for the industry, but also cater to the desires of an increasingly socially conscious society.
The implication being made considers the concept of doing away with the method by which conventional pet stores obtain their dogs, and instead working alongside shelter and rescues to ensure that more of those animals are adopted instead. The majority of pet stores in America presently purchase their puppies from establishments known as puppy mills, where the mothers are overbred to the point of death and often times the puppies are sickly upon arrival after being shipped to stores nationwide. A quick web search of the term will yield hundreds of thousands of hits in reference to these immoral operations along with great media and consumer outrage.
As this unethical wholesale practice continues to reach broader audiences, the public perception of buying from pet stores will be one of poorer discretion, resulting in the exploration for alternative channels from which one can adopt dogs. The scarce amount of substitutes that are available, however, pose their own drawbacks. Reputable private breeders assure top-notch registered pedigrees, but come at great financial costs that are usually feasible only for those competing in shows and professional arenas. Lesser-respected are ‘backyard breeders’ who sell litters privately right from their homes and advertise in newspapers and online. Even in an increasingly modern and internet-savvy society, people can be skeptical of ‘buying without seeing’ so-to-speak, so this is still not the most practical method of acquiring a dog. The most ideal practice is to adopt from one’s local shelter or rescue where the dogs have been vet-checked, often times already housetrained, but have been abandoned because the previous owner was no longer able to look after the animal due to relocation, allergies, etc. The reason many still don’t examine this outlet however, is because they often have preconceived notions that these dogs are sickly, misbehaved, or they are completely unaware of where the closest ones in their area are located.
Hence, the ultimate solution to the various issues that have been posed and the focus of this business proposal is “(enter store name)” This start-up will begin in a single location in central, upper-middle class Suburbia, NJ with the potential for growth in other areas that foster growing families looking to adopt the perfect pet. By combining the convenience of location which pet stores provide and by teaming up with local shelters and rescues in place of puppy mills, as well as creating an upscale, clean and friendly environment, (enter store name) will offer consumers with an affordable and socially beneficial outlet towards canine adoption.
Puppy up for adoption through NJ’s Monmouth County SPCA, at the Purr n Pooch Foundation “Paws for a Cause” event, June 2011
I ultimately ended up earning a BS in Animal Science with specialization in industries and tacked on a business minor. What becomes of it all remains to be seen, but I recently came across the following quote that applies to my vision and future aspirations: “Optimists are nostalgic about the future.” I’m looking forward, reminiscing on what’s to come :)