Goal is to spread goodness!

A Canadian Retailer’s perspective towards Indian pet industry and how we all need to join hands and come together for animal welfare!
-by Karima Jivraj

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In late January, as a Board Member of Pets Canada, I had the opportunity to attend a trade mission to Petex India in Hyderabad. What an excellent opportunity to learn about the pet industry and animal welfare in India.

Experience that speaks for itself

As a 12-year franchise partner of Bosley’s by Pet Valu Columbia Square in New Westminster, BC (Pet Valu and its brands is the largest pet specialty retail chain in Canada)and a Board Member of Pets Canada, I have had several opportunities to visit different places and learn about the pet industry and animal welfare globally. I also work with several local rescues and shelters here in Vancouver, BC that do adoptions, spay/neuter clinics, advocacy, permanent fosters, etc. Over the years I have also partnered with and built strong relationships with manufacturers, distributors, vendor representatives, reputable pet care providers, positive reinforcement trainers and veterinarians.

The goal is to spread goodness!

I joined the pet industry with the goal of being able to educate pet parents, advocate for animal welfare and to do so, I have taken as many courses, classes, seminars, attended shows as I can. In order to be a good retailer, I understood early on that I need to learn as much as possible about pet care and how to help the pet parents that come into my store. Pets don’t care if you earn $500 a day or $5000 a day – they just want to be loved, taken care off and in return they will give you unconditional love. My goal for my store is to help every pet parent to do the best that they can for their beloved pets with no judgements.

A golden opportunity to understand Indian pet industry

When I decided to come to Hyderabad for the Petex India show, I wanted to meet people that work in the animal rescue and animal welfare area. The team in Ottawa reached out to the team at Petex India and asked for them to set up a tour of a local shelter. The team also reached out to others in the international industry and a tour of a second rescue was set up. I really wanted to learn more about how the shelters and rescues worked in India.

Canada to Hyderabad – A journey of gratitude

I am grateful for the opportunity to visit these shelters/rescues and speak to those who do the hard work in taking care of these pets. I also wanted to do a little something to help both organizations in the work that they do, so I reached out to the distributors that I work with, my fellow franchise partners and my customers. I asked to collect new or gently used collars, leashes, harnesses, cooling vests, cooling mats, raincoats, post-surgical e-collars, etc. On January 22nd I set out from Vancouver for a 25-hour trip to Hyderabad with 50kg in donations. The entire trip, I kept tracking my luggage to make sure that the donations arrived with me as my first shelter visit was the afternoon I arrived. The donations were to be equally shared with both organizations.

Unmatched compassion and dedication towards animal welfare

With the team we visited People for Animals, Hyderabad, this is a new shelter an hour and half outside of Hyderabad. I was to meet Dr. Amulya (no longer at PFA) and her team to tour the facility. The site is large and it was a pleasant surprise. There is an onsite clinic, isolation ward, a cat area, a dog area, areas for monkeys, farm animals, horses, donkeys and birds. There is also a crematorium onsite that the general public can use for their pets. There is an area for educating those that work in the shelter/rescue world. They care for over 350-400 animals on a regular basis. They have a vehicle that goes out to look for injured animals to bring into care or pick up the ones that the public has reported. All this is done using donation funds. The team onsite is incredibly dedicated and compassionate towards animals. They provide the best care that they can. I learnt a lot from Dr. Amulya and she was patient enough to answer all my questions for me. I was also overwhelmed as I had never seen a shelter operation this large in one space.

The next day, my colleague Chad Bachand (from Pets Canada) and I went to Jeeva Vatsalya Animal Rehabilitation Centre in Bachupally. This is a grassroot level operation and completely different from the PFA facility. I met with Anita and Raghu, who spoke to me about the work that they do. They have a lot of dogs that will never be adopted and will remain at the facility for their entire life. They do the best they can with their own resources, and they raise funds as needed for the dogs in their care. The shelter is extremely basic but the dogs in their care are happy and as healthy as they can be. They don’t have a dedicated vet for the center and work with a minimum volunteer team.

Small steps make a huge difference

I had a lot to understand and process. Both organizations were working towards a common goal but with completely opposite facilities and resources. I was in awe at the determination, passion and dedication to making the lives of animals in their care better. I also realized that it was really important to continue to advocate for animal welfare not just in Canada but across the world. We can all learn from each other if we keep an open mind and work with respect and understanding of the common goal – better animal welfare. If you can, please consider donating to a local shelter or rescue in your area. A bag of food, toys, supplies or even a small amount of cash can make a huge difference for them!

The Petex India show was also a completely different experience for me. I had never been to a combined B2C and B2B show. There was a lot to see and learn. I got to meet breeders, vendors and consumers over the 3 days of the show. I got to understand the Indian pet industry a bit as well. India is an emerging market in the pet industry globally. Pet parents are learning and educating themselves on pet care, wanting better products for their pets and love their pets.

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