Best Friends Pets at Stockland Shellharbour is one business getting more business during COVID-19.
Manager Scot Snashall said demand for pet food, the veterinary service and grooming has remained strong. And there are so many requests for pet adoptions there is a waiting list.
Mr Snashall said buying food for a pet is seen as an essential service but not taking one to a park or a beach. So many people are walking to Best Friends Pets with their pet to cover both bases.
The other trend Mr Snashall and his team of 20 are seeing is the increase in sales of owners buying matching onesies to their pet's pyjamas.
Social isolation has seen many people wanting the matching attire but not too many are walking into the shop that way. However some staff have posted such photos.
Mr Snashall said the demand for adoptions covered all kinds of pets. It was occuring because people who have long wanted a pet now have more time to prepare and take the step of settling in a new member of the family.
He said Best Friends Pets works closely with charities such as Friends For Life Rescue and Best Friend Fur Ever Rescue to achieve the best result for all concerned.
"I like that most of our customers don't seem to be impulse buyers. Dogs and cats are the most popular but we have a waiting list for guinea pigs and rabbits as well".
"I have around 25 people on the rabbit waiting list at the moment. But we are not encouraging mass breeding.
"We can't keep enough fish tanks or fish merchandise in the store.
"During COVID people are after whatever animal they have wanted for some time but couldn't previously commit to the high need of the first two or three months. They see the time now as their opportunity to get that new family member."
Mr Snashall and his team at Best Friends Pets do what they do because they love animals.
They are not only careful about who they source pets from for their customers. But in ensuring the animals are going to a good home.
"We make sure people understand the commitment they are making," he said.
Mr Snashall's own dog Roger, who comes to work with him every day, was an RSPCA rescue. So he knows first hand how animals respond to a caring commitment by their owners.
Jules Smith, of Friends For Life Rescue which handles cat and kitten adoptions, said Best Friends Pets supported its work with pet food, advice, fundraising and general pet support.
"Being a brand new rescue organisation, Scot, Jess and the team have welcomed us into the local pet community with open arms," Ms Smith said.
"They have also been instrumental in establishing our relationships with other local rescue groups."
Rebecca, of Best Friend Fur Ever Rescue Illawarra, said as a rescue service that predominately helps homeless cats and kittens, the main aim was to ensure rescues receive the best of care and go to only the best of homes.
"We have worked alongside Helen from Our Vets at Best Friends Pets for two years now. She has guided us through, vetted and re-homed many of our waifs," she said.
"Without the support of Helen and her team, many kittens would still be living dangerously on the streets."
Sandra Dodovski, of Best Friend Fur Ever Rescue, said the small volunteer-run rescue organisation was committed to saving 'one paw at a time'. She said welcoming a pet into a family is a commitment for the life span of the pet.
Stockland Shellharbour centre manager Daniel Buchanan said Best Friends Pets has worked hard through COVID-19 restrictions to ensure the Shellharbour community has continued and safe access to essential goods and services for pets.
"The team has been very diligent in ensuring that social distancing measures are complied with in the store," Mr Buchanan said.
"We look forward to seeing more retailers re-open in the coming weeks as government restrictions ease and people begin to feel more comfortable visiting the centre and stores in-person."
Some Best Friends Pets facts:
- Mr Snashall has managed Best Friends Pets at Stockland Shellharbour for more than three years after previously working for the company in Queensland.
- There are more than 30 Best Friends Pets stores around Australia.
- Apart from having to change some procedures to meet social distancing requirements the groomers and vets at Best Friends Pets in Shellharbour are as a busy as ever.
- The Best Friends Pets puppy pre-school at Shellharbour was doing nine classes a week prior to the coronavirus crisis. The classes have had to stop until social distancing restrictions ease.
- Best Friends Pets have always sold dog clothing and pyjamas but in 2019 decided to launch matching clothing for owners. That has resulted in some interesting photos of pets and their owners lounging around on the couch together in social isolation watching their favourite shows.
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