The owners of Loveland’s Town and Country Pet Center, which has been the target of protests against puppy mills in recent years, announced on Friday that they were retiring after 45 years in the business.
Mark Aine, who owns the store at 130 S. Cleveland Ave. with his wife, Sharon, said it was a good time to move on.
“I’m almost 70 years old.… I have enough energy to see the end of this,” he said. “I have a lot of animals to place; I have a lot of dry goods to sell. It’s a lot of work to “tear down the campsite”. I don’t want to wait until I run out of energy.
Aine put up “retirement sale” signs in his store on Friday morning and said he would post the ad on the store’s Facebook page and website.
Everything in the store is 30% off, he said, including pet supplies, food, and dozens of animals. He said he plans to close in about 12 weeks, in February, or before that if all of the store’s inventory and accessories are sold out.
It is also open to selling the business if anyone is interested, even if they haven’t registered it with a business broker.
In a press release, Aine said he has been planning to retire for 18 months and “looks forward to less stress and more time with family and friends.”
“A sincere goodbye”
“There was joy in building this business,” he said in an interview on Friday. “Now I find joy in finding homes for everything and ending the business. “
In the statement, he wrote: “We want all of our customers over the years to know how much we have appreciated their loyalty and hope people stop to say goodbye to us from the bottom of their hearts.”
Aine said he had a full inventory of animals to find homes for, including 60 varieties of tropical fish, 18 reptiles, 12 birds, four guinea pigs, 12 pygmy hedgehogs, 15 mice, 15 rats, seven rabbits, three hamsters. , two ferrets, an assortment of tarantulas and hermit crabs and several puppies and kittens.
He was not specific on the number of puppies because although he has nine in the store at the moment, he will receive more from the breeders he has committed to taking their dogs with when they are 8 weeks old. .
Aine, who grew up in Palo Alto, Calif., Said he got interested in the pet business after meeting the owner of a pet store in the San Francisco Bay Area where his girlfriend worked.
“I loved the energy in the pet store, and it fascinated me to be able to talk with people who had enough knowledge to keep these many types of animals alive, healthy and happy,” a- he declared.
Company started in 1974
After moving to Loveland in 1971, he and Sharon started a dog grooming business in 1974, he said.
“Then we added the tropical fish, then we added the supplies, then we added the small animals and the birds,” he said, recalling that the Woolworths dime store was the only one place in Loveland that sold pets – specifically, tropical fish.
Around 1984, they started buying puppies from breeders and selling them in the store, he said.
“We have placed 5,000 puppies” over the years, he said.
Town and Country is Loveland’s latest store selling puppies and kittens, he said, although Petco and PetSmart do sell fish, reptiles and birds.
Puppy mill claims
Aine has faced public opposition from organizations such as Colorado Citizens for Canine Welfare and, more recently, Berthoud-based Harley’s Dream. Members of these groups demonstrated outside the store, saying they wanted to let people know that the store was getting its puppies from unsavory breeders – or “puppy mills.”
Dan Taylor, co-founder of Harley’s Dream, has said in the past that he doesn’t want to force the shutdown of the Aineses business but just encourage them to stop selling puppies and kittens.
Harley’s Dream marketing director Michele Burchfield said on Friday she had not heard of the impending closure of the Town and Country Pet Center, where she participated in a protest.
Burchfield said she doesn’t believe a pet store sells puppies raised in a responsible and humane manner.
“A responsible breeder breeds a small number of dogs, and they want to be sure their puppies are going into the right type of home,” she said.
“They don’t put them in a pet store window to sell to someone who has a check for $ 1,200,” she said. “They want to make sure this puppy has a good life.”
The goal of Harley’s Dream, Burchfield said, is to get pet stores to stop selling puppies and kittens and move to a “human model” of only carrying pet supplies. She cited statistics provided by the Humane Society of the United States which indicate that pet stores can be profitable if they stop selling animals.
On a fact sheet outlining the safeguards Aine said Town and Country takes to ensure their puppies are raised responsibly, he wrote that it is “absurd” to say the store buys puppies in. puppy mills.
He added, “We find ourselves in a world where people can make allegations, regardless of the truth, and a person has the choice of resisting insulting advertising or engaging in multi-year lawsuits. “