Mike Binder is an employee at Pet Supplies Plus in Wayne, Pennsylvania. One of our staff members interviewed him on February 20, 2015. Mike has a passion for working with animals, and has been doing so for many years. He started working at Pets Plus around 4 to 6 months before the interview. He exudes a high level of concern for the welfare of all of the animals that make their way into the pet store.
Our staff member asked many questions about the care of the different types of animals there. She noticed that the fish seem very happy and healthy, not overfed or underfed, and she didn’t see dead ones in the tanks. Mike responded that the environment there is not one of a normal retail establishment or just a job. The employees all have a deep love for the animals and care for them, and apply their knowledge for the animals’ well-being.
All of the animals are taken for regular appointments to the veterinarian, and every effort is made to take them also if something seems to be wrong with them. Any animal that has something wrong is separated from other animals whenever necessary. This helps to protect all of the animals. The animal which is having a problem is kept alone to prevent any further harm to it, and also so other animals don’t run the risk of catching anything that might be contagious. The animal will be treated, and the habitat will be broken down, disinfected and treated to prevent the spread of any problems. Even fish which appear sick will be placed into separated tanks in the back.
Sometimes male and female animals arrive together, but the employees do their best to keep them separated. Any time they notice males and females are together, they will separate them.
There is a specialized diet for each type of animal, including each individual type of bird. Birds are fed things like millet, fresh vegetables, or whatever would most benefit them. The fish are also given special pellets, depending on what type of fish they are. Hermit crabs are given a specialized mix which includes a certain kind of pellet.
All animal care is scheduled so that the cages are kept clean. Of course, if there is a need, maintenance will be done in between the scheduled cleanings. Some employees arrive at 8 each morning, and do the scheduled maintenance for the animals before the store opens at 9. Certain tasks are scheduled for mid-day, and some are for night time before closing. Some of the tasks for the fish, for example, are changing the filters, scrubbing the tank glass, vacuuming the gravel, and treating the water.
When animals are sold, every attempt is made to get a new one in its place right away to give people other animals to enjoy. Sometimes, it takes a little while to get a replacement from a distributor because of availability. For example, a chameleon was sold earlier this year, and they’re currently waiting for another. They expect to get two more soon, but aren’t sure exactly when.
People buying fish often ask for particular ones. Mike says this is usually not a problem, as they can almost always get the chosen fish even when it hides. Only if there is a possibility of harm to the fish will the customer be asked to choose a different fish. Typically, this is not an issue.
Some of the animals arrive with certain markings. For example, the birds have metal leg bands. Ferrets have their ears marked, almost like a tattoo. These are all things that are the choice of the distributors, not the store.
Mike was asked about the variety of animals available, and if there were any plans for additional types of animals. He explained that there are no dogs there simply because of space constraints. The only options for new types of animals would be for smaller ones, again because of the space. They choose the types of animals based on interest of the customers. It’s partly based on what is provided at the company level as well. There have been small changes, such as adding a chinchilla. Shrimps and frogs are also provided for fish tanks. They like to keep it interesting.
The store is indeed interesting. When you visit, they often have animals out to interact with the customers. There is a place in the front of the store for cats to play. I noticed on my most recent visit that a woman was holding one of those small poles with feather dangling from it, and waving it around for the cat that was in the little fenced in cat play area.