By Kim Childs/Natural Awakenings
This article appeared in the December 2013 issue of Natural Awakenings Boston Massachusetts Edition
Founded in 1988, Especially for Pets is a chain of Boston-area stores that offer pet food and supplies, training and grooming services and education. Honoring a mission to never sell pets, the company promotes adoption and responsible pet care and hosts seminars on nutrition, training, health and wellness issues. Especially for Pets employees often bring their dogs to work, and the company continually supports local animal humane organizations through customer education and direct financial support. Natural Awakenings spoke with business development director Amy Kinne to learn more about the company’s activities and broader mission.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Especially for Pets. How are you celebrating?
It’s been a wonderful celebration year of thanking our customers and helping to support our local shelters and non-profits. Customers and eflyer subscribers have enjoyed special daily deals, gift card giveaways and discounts in entire departments. We also held a matching fund donation program and, while our original plan was to match customer donations one-to-one, we decided to double the company’s contribution. As a result, a total of $25,000 in donations was divided equally among the winning animal humane organizations, which were chosen by customer voting. The recipients are the Sterling Animal Shelter, Neponset Valley Humane Society, Baypath Humane Society, Guardian Angels Cat Rescue and Metrowest Humane Society.
What kind of educational programs do you offer in the stores?
In addition to our adoption information days with local rescues and shelters, we’ve held seminars on dental care, raw food diets, first-aid for pets and holistic education with Reiki clinics. Actually, we were the first retailer in Massachusetts to carry raw frozen pet food, and we help customers find all of the items they need for a raw diet. We offer about 55 dog-training classes each week. Our Sudbury location features a dedicated 2,200-square-foot training academy where we’ve featured such guest trainers as Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson. In 2005 we held a huge event offsite with Cesar Millan, known by millions for his television show The Dog Whisperer.
What is behind the company’s mission to never sell animals?
It represents our concern for homeless animals, which motivates us to encourage adoption, education, spaying and neutering. We work with shelters and breed rescues throughout New England to help our customers find the animals they want to adopt. Like our customers, we view our animals as family, and we want to celebrate and support those bonds with the best products, training and services for newly adopted pets. Over the years we’ve donated more than $300,000 to shelters and rescue organizations through a variety of fundraisers, including our Nail Clipping Charity program, which provides free walk-in nail clippings in exchange for a donation. We also have a partnership with Pets and People Foundation, which brings therapy dogs and cats to hospitals and nursing homes.
Are you seeing more people choose holistic care for their pets?
Absolutely. I think, as people are taking better care of themselves, they’re also caring for their animals in a more holistic way. We carry both alternative and mainstream versions of food, supplies, supplements and grooming products. We also have a list of local traditional and holistic veterinarians in each store, along with information about things like dog parks, much of which is provided by our customers who really are in partnership with us and bring us great ideas. Holistic care is something I’m personally interested in. I had a Golden Retriever who lived to the age of 16. I adopted her at age 3 and she later developed fatty tumors in her body. When she turned 8, I switched her over to a raw diet and the tumors shrank. Her seasonal allergies also seemed to disappear on the raw diet. I used chiropractic care and Reiki on her during times of stress, such as moving, when she needed a little extra help. It’s been a blessing to be able to access all of these resources because of where I work.