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Old 01-31-2015, 04:15 PM   #1
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Smile Opinions wanted :)

Hello everyone

Its been a while since I posted here - But the last time I did I got some wonderful advice about my darling dwarf hamster Perdie, So I thought I would ask some opinions from you guys

I am a huge animal lover - and I know the joy looking after animals can bring to peoples lives. I don't know about any of you but I have found it frustrating to see the lack of knowledge some small pet owners have about where their rodents have come from or been breed.
I know a large amount of pet stores and shops source their small animals from mass breeders, leading to the animals being nervous, untamed and unhealthy.
I was wondering what the opinions were on buying hamsters and other small pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs and rats?
Where did you buy your hamsters? Or any small pets?
Did you experience any health issues with them or any other problems?
Would you feel happier knowing the full history of the pet - such as when it was born, what medical attention it had received and who its parents are?
Do you think this would matter in your decision to purchase the pet.

I am really interested in starting an ethical pet shop - which sells good quality healthy toys and foods and treats for Small pets, Dogs, Cats, Birds and fish. I just wondered whether educating people on small pet breeders or rescue centres through the shop would be a popular idea?

Any opinions or feedback would be most welcome
Thank you
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Old 01-31-2015, 06:15 PM   #2
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Default Re: Opinions wanted :)

My personal preference is to avoid buying directly from pet shops or backyard breeders as I don't want to give them money for buying from rodent farms - that said I do indirectly support others buying irresponsibly from pet shops by being ok to get hamsters from gumtree or wherever who need a home and who were probably bought from a pet shop or backyard breeder in the first place.
Our pets are a mix of from good responsible breeders, from the P@H adoption centre (yup still from a rodent farm most of the time but at least the money paid goes to charity) and other animals who've needed a home - be that through people we know, preloved, gumtree or a good rescue (the one we've got a few animals from is Notts Nibblers but they aren't the only rescue I think highly of).
We have had health issues in animals who haven't been from good responsible breeders but we accept it as one of the potential consequences of choosing to get that animal. We've knowingly taken in a few with behavioural issues and again we regard any bites or difficulties taming as a consequence we knowingly risked facing when we chose to get the animal(s) in question. Plus even going to a good breeder doesn't guarantee there'll be no problems - it just reduces that risk to a level many are happier with.
I do like knowing our pets history but I'm fine not knowing too, for example I love that Muddle and Rusty are related but I love Teddy just as much and most of the info we were given about him when we got him was clearly incorrect. If we know the history affects our decision slightly but mostly in that if we can't be sure its not a backyard breeder then we do stay away. If we believe they genuinely just want rid of the animal for whatever reason we're ok to get it despite not knowing its history. Breeder animals obviously we get if we wish to get them and its a lovely change to know so much about them and sometimes get them younger than most of our animals have been when we got them.

I think an ethical pet shop would be great but unfortunately I'm not sure how profitable it would be. A lot of people would probably prefer to go to wherever was cheapest and generally the lower the price the lower the quality.
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Old 02-01-2015, 06:32 AM   #3
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Default Re: Opinions wanted :)

Thank you for your reply It was helpful to have another perspective on the subject

I absolutely love animals, And would love to have a business revolving around their care and health. Its just a matter of looking at where to start
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Old 02-01-2015, 02:03 PM   #4
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Default Re: Opinions wanted :)

My local pet shop is small but quite good - although they could be better, some of the products aren't great. They focus primarily on pet food. They buy in bulk and then portion it and sell it at various weights, they also sell in bulk and the regular bags of food. I'm in a small town and there are surrounding farms so this works really well - I'm not sure what sort of location you are looking at. They ensure that the prices are either the same as the big chain pet shops and sometimes even a little cheaper. I don't bother buying treats or food anywhere else because of this, which is much the same attitude of the other locals. After the food they focus on accessories. Their range is limited and can be classed as 'essentials' and they have a slightly wider range of things for cats and dogs. I've bought one or two things there but otherwise I order online.

This brings us to live animals. Due to space and cost considerations he only sells a small amount of animals. These are limited to common types of goldfish, guppies, and the occasional betta. He has six tanks of fish and he maintains them well, if he has a Betta it's in a whole tank by itself. He then has two tanks with meshed lids and these are reserved for hamsters, one for males and one for females. The ethical part comes in that with the hamsters he does not get them from rodent mills or breeders but rather locals who have had accidental litters that give them up to the owner for free. He will then not take on any more hamsters until they are all sold. He does seperate them into cages at the back of the shop when they get too old to stay together as 9 times out of ten it's syrians (these cages are out of the customers sight leaving one hamster out until sold and then switching them - this I think is more because of space than anything else). He does this with the fish as well. He will take in fish for free from locals who have had fry or who can no longer keep the fish. He then quarrentines them for 2 weeks to ensure they are healthy and then sells them.

This pet shop has been going forever and they do relatively well. I think from an ethical point of view if you keep it 'small scale' with live animals and focus on where you are sourcing your animals from it would work well. Then focus on what products you are selling for the animals and ensure that they are all suitable i.e. guinea pig products are all good for guinea pigs, hamster products are good for hamsters and so on. I would also ensure that there are free pamphlets on proper care for each animal being sold and that it gets given along with the pet, also for those just buying products. And lastly would be staff training, making sure any staff are giving appropriate advice to customers (the pamphlets should help with this).

That's just my 2 cents anyway. I hope it's been somewhat helpful
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Old 02-01-2015, 03:04 PM   #5
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Default Re: Opinions wanted :)

I have previously rescued hamsters from the P@H adoption centre, and from members here on HC. I do not purchase pets from local pet shops as the one closest to me does not separate the genders of hamsters due to space (I have reported them to the LA) and the females are pregnant becuse my next door's hammy gave birth days afte owning her.

The two Syrians I have now come from Blue Rose Hamstery, or from shows.
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Old 02-01-2015, 04:04 PM   #6
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Default Re: Opinions wanted :)

My two childhood Hammies came from pet shops, both from Jolleys but that was really my parents decision. They were healthy enough and very friendly, chillled out hams. My two recent girls were both from the p@h adoption centre, I don't think I could in good conscience pay p@h for a ham or any live animal. There are no hamster breeders in Northern Ireland as far as I'm aware so I don't have much of a choice but tbh I think I'd rather rescue anyway. Older hams seem to have such a hard time finding forever homes.

Though the taming process is so so much harder with my recent rescues, Buttercup sadly passed (cancer) before we got any cuddles and Cc is still very against being picked up, even after over 3 months with me. I think I'd like a well raised baby one day. If anyone knows of any breeders in like the top half of Ireland let me know
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Old 02-02-2015, 02:19 AM   #7
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Default Re: Opinions wanted :)

I think an ethical pet shop would be a wonderful idea but I do tend to agree that it might not be a very profitable proposition! You would possibly get some interest just from the curiosity factor & that people like to explore new pet shops but not necessarily buy if they can go somewhere cheaper, it would be a great opportunity to educate potential pet owners though & I'm sure there would be a small number of customers willing to pay, just maybe not enough.

I would love to know the full history of any hamster I buy but for me it's just not an option, I live in the middle of nowhere without transport far from breeders or even rescues so even getting to P@H adoption is a real challenge!
Much as I think it would be nice to be able to go to a breeder I know there will always be adoption or rescue hams needing homes so I would rather go down that route even if it wasn't the only option available to me.
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Old 02-02-2015, 05:27 AM   #8
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Default Re: Opinions wanted :)

Thank you for all your responses Its great to hear from other small pet owners
Cypher I know the feeling - this is the exact problem I have. Lots of shops near me cater to horses and dogs but not to any smaller creatures! I have to order my harry hamster online because there isn't anywhere nearby that stocks it.
Its even harder to source small animals in my area. I couldn't find a breeder easy to get to from where I live without driving. And as I don't drive this is a problem!
Whatever I end up doing will have to be priced competitively, and I'll have to do my market research. I would like to sell things for dogs and cats too, and maybe even look into stocking supplies for animals with sensitive tummy and allergies.

Ruby - that sounds like a really nice shop, its a really interesting way to sell live animals and also help new owners who find themselves with surprises!
I suppose what I would really like is to be able to provide good advice and education for people. You only have to look on gumtree to see that unfortunately there are so many pets that need a new home because children have lost interest or people are having to move house. I almost wish there was a way of setting up a rehoming scheme in my area, but I'm not sure how to go about this.

We got a dwarf hamster from pets at home and its been one of the biggest mistakes ever. She's been so poorly, and even after almost a year she's still not very happy being picked up or touched. It really is a shame because she's very sweet natured, just scared of everything.
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Old 02-02-2015, 06:21 AM   #9
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Default Re: Opinions wanted :)

Agree - so many shops are a great idea but not viable financially. Unless you had a finger in some other pies maybe? If you sold online as well (products I mean, not live animals) that might help. For example I have bought my last two wooden houses on Amazon and ebay and both times it was the same seller - a pet shop. If they sell a few of those houses a week - and other pet supplies - on Amazon or ebay I can see that that would help. But then you have returns to deal with!

Another thought I had - if it is an ethical pet shop, could you set up the business as a charity shop? ie non profiting making, but obviously you would be allowed to pay yourself a salary. I'm not sure what the restrictions are for setting a business as a charity shop. I know charity shops don't have to pay business rates, not sure about rent - which makes it more viable.
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Old 02-02-2015, 08:25 AM   #10
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Default Re: Opinions wanted :)

I think the reason my local pet shop makes a profit is because it focuses on what is needed by the community and what they regularly buy, which is pet food and then accessories after that. Live animals are simply a side service and a very very small part of the shop, I don't imagine he even really makes any money off it.

What I would do if you are seriously looking into opening a pet shop is to do a survey in the area where you would like to open one. Just go door to door (not fun I know) and ask people what they buy for their pets, what they would want a local pet shop to stock and what things would make them go to the local shop rather than a big chain store. Getting an idea of what the customers want rather than what you want will go a long way in making a store that is profitable. After that is figuring out how to meet the needs/wants of the customers in an ethical way.
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