And the Most Popular Item at PETCO is…
On an average day in a pet store in Halethorpe, Maryland, department manager Heather England will see a handful of customers make a mid-stride course correction away from the aisles of cat food, dog chow and bird paraphernalia, to instead go and coo at a wall full of items the store doesn’t even sell. The “items” in question are the furry and adorable cats from BARCS. Visitors are apt to find them preening, pouncing, wrestling or simply snoozing, but as soon as someone arrives they stop and engage passersby, as if to say, “pick me!” The cats are always on the lookout for adoptive parents and they are perhaps the store’s biggest draw.
England couldn’t be happier.
“I love seeing people come in to look at the cats,” she says. “It makes everyone who works in the store smile when we help pair up a cat and a person.”
And pair them up they do. On average, the Petco store in Halethorpe helps find homes for one to three cats a week. During special “adoption events” held at the store, as many as 10 BARCS cats have been adopted in a single day. For store workers, the pace of adoptions has a bittersweet downside. “The cats cycle through so fast that we don’t get to build up much of an attachment,” said England. “One day, they’re here and they’re cute; the next day they’re gone.” Once in a while though, a BARCS cat actually goes home with a PETCO employee.
“We’ve seen that happen,” said England. “That’s a nice perk of working here – we get to see the cats first.”
Of course, the cats don’t always leave everything to chance. England recalls one cat that, once adopted, insisted that her new owner go back to the store to ask about an unspecified mystery illness. It was an obvious ruse – the cat simply wanted her new owner to adopt her former roommate and bring her home, too. Naturally, she did.
The BARCS-Petco relationship has been in place since early 2008. More recently, BARCS began partnering in a similar capacity with two Baltimore area PetValu stores, on Charles Street and Fort Avenue. Both those efforts are off to strong starts which is great news for BARCS cats: more that 420 cats have been adopted via the Petco store alone and more pet store partners means more cats will undoubtedly find happy homes.
A lot of work goes into making the partnership arrangements so successful. BARCS Lead volunteer Belinda Reed recruits volunteers and coordinates schedules for the 12 or so volunteers needed to feed, groom and otherwise care for the BARCS cats at Halethorpe’s Petco store. She’s proud that the cats always look great and tend to find happy homes quickly. Reed even writes the Petco Kit Kats blog that features Happy Tail adoption stories.
“Lately is seems we very rarely have a cat stay longer than two or three weeks before they are adopted,” says Reed. “All of the volunteers do an amazing job tending to the kitties in the stores, making sure they get exercise and attention, so they can look their best! I cannot say enough about how PETCO and PetValu are helping support BARCS mission.”
We hope all of our Paw Printers readers will visit the BARCS cats and support our Petco and Pet Valu partners.