SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — The new owners of Dot’s Pet Center on Shawnee Road hope to challenge the pet store stigma, focusing on licensed breeders and the quality of care animals receive before coming to the store.
“We buy from only USDA-inspected licensed breeders,” said Evan Nieto, who took over the local pet store in May. Of the breeders Nieto currently works with, both “have shown us their facilities. They keep (them) to an immaculate level of cleanliness.”
Dot’s Pet Center, a locally owned pet store in Shawnee Township, was founded in 1991. The store sells a variety of supplies and popular pets, from puppies, kittens and birds to exotic animals like snakes, fish and tarantulas.
The quality of care animals at Dot’s Pet Center receive is a top priority for Nieto, who moved to Lima with his wife, Whitney, in April. Still, Nieto says the greatest challenge he’s experienced since assuming ownership of the store is fighting against the negative stereotypes associated with pet shops.
“We know if we put the care for each animal as our sole priority, people will see it,” he said.
Already, Nieto says the store has upgraded its cage banks and beta tanks. And the young entrepreneur works closely with distributors, breeders and others to make sure animals sold at the store are cared for, he said.
Nieto had always wanted to go into business on his own, so when the opportunity to purchase Dot’s Pet Center was raised this past spring, he quickly said yes.
“I grew up going to pet stores because my parents, they didn’t have a lot of money. To make our own fun we’d go to the pet store, look around, play with the animals, learn about them,” he said.
“Every day’s just a learning experience,” Nieto continued. “My motivation right now is just trying to get my team members to be the best versions of themselves and change the stigma around pet stores, with care being the main priority of our store.”
While the store is under new ownership, long-time general manager Larry Miller is still overseeing day-to-day operations.
Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.