On the surface, The Petosphere on Auburn Way might seem your run-of-the-mill pet store.
Inside, the playful sound of a passel of puppies awaiting new homes fills the air, mingling with the chirp of crickets destined to become dinner for someone’s reptile. On the shelves are the usual items you would find in any chain store – toys, food and leashes.
But after a closer look at the inventory and a few moments chatting with owner Victoria Logan, it becomes apparent that The Petosphere operates on an entirely different principle.
“Basically the philosophy of the store is that everything in the store is safe for your pet,” said Logan, a veterinary tech with more than 20 years of experience teaching and practicing veterinary medicine. “I don’t carry things that I have pulled out of a dog’s guts. You come in here, you’re not going to find rawhide. It’s horrible. You come in here, you’re not going to find dental treats unless they’re made of potato starch. You’re not going to find foods with corn, wheat or gluten. There is none of that.”
According to Logan, who is originally from Texas and has lived in Washington for more than a decade, the reason she opened the store almost a year ago was to educate pet owners and provide them a place where they could get advice and buy products to further enhance the lives of their animal companions.
“I grew up working with horses and large animal vets and it just kind of progressed,” Logan said. “We moved to places where there wasn’t necessarily large animals, so that’s when I went into small animal practice.”
Logan, who specialized in emergency veterinary medicine and herpetology – the care of reptiles – first made a foray into the pet shop field after settling down in Arlington.
“My first store was Smokey Point Pets,” she said.
After splitting from her husband, Logan soon found her way south to Auburn where she opened The Petosphere in June of 2008.
“The biggest thing with this store is education,” Logan said. “Education, education, education. There are so many pet stores that I would go into and hear the people working there giving horrible information, not just horrible but potentially deadly information. You can’t do that. I understand that the big pet stores can’t afford to hire extremely knowledgable people. But everybody who works here though, either I’ve trained or they were students of mine when I taught vetinary medicine at the Pima Medical Institute (in Renton) or they’re learning it now.”
Currently, Logan said the store specializes in pet food that provides an alternative to common protein ingredients that can cause allergies in animals.
“On our food side we try to concentrate on protein sources to alleviate and avoid allergies in dogs altogther,” she said. “They can develop huge allergies to chicken, lamb and beef. So we’re looking for other protein sources. I’m really into bison, kangaroo, pork, just different sources. Right now brushtail is huge I’m trying to get more people into that one.”
According to Logan, the brushtail possum is a marsupial animal introduced in New Zealand, where the animal has become a pest and a threat to agriculture and native species.
“It’s a really nice food,” she said. “I’m just trying to get into things that are convenient. I’ll be introducing raw food soon.”
So far the extra effort, education and customer service seems to be doing the trick at The Petosphere.
“I have a really strong loyal base,” she said. “I have a lot of people who will come to me before the vet. Which is OK, although if I don’t know 100 percent what it is, I’ll send them to the vet.”
In addition to selling pet needs, Logan and The Petosphere also sell pets, with several puppies awaiting new homes and a space for exotic fish currently under construction.
Logan said that the decision to sell puppies was a difficult one.
“It caused me a lot of sleepless nights,” she said. “The first question I always ask when people come in is, ‘Have you gone to the shelters? Have you checked the pounds?’ My first response is to tell them if you can rescue, then please rescue. Puppies can always find a home. It’s the older dogs that need a home.
“Unfortunately not everybody can do that,” Logan continued. “If you have young children you might not bring in a dog that you don’t know the history of. The society does a great job of character typing and profiling the dogs, but there is still an unknown. And I understand that, and that’s why there needs to be an option.”
Logan said she is careful to make sure the puppies she sells are not puppy mill dogs – animals bred in less than desirable conditions.
“Many stores out there deal with brokers, so they can legimately say they don’t buy from a puppy mill,” she said. “I have a breeder that I’ve been friends with for years and years. “Basically when she has puppies she’ll bring them here and we consign them. I only deal with the one breeder because I’m familiar with her facilities. I’ve delivered half the puppies here.”
According to Logan her breeder is the only one in the state of Washington that is USDA licensed and Humane Society licensed and inspected.
Finally, Logan says she relies on education to ensure a proper match between dog and owner.
“A lot of people, they see the puppy and they fall in love with the puppy, it’s a spur of the moment thing,” she said. “The puppies looking at them with those big brown eyes. A lot of times I’ll make them go home, and learn more about the breed and thing about it. God knows I’ve turned enough people away. If I don’t think it’s the right person for a puppy than I don’t sell them the puppy.”
The Petosphere is located at 14 Auburn Way S. More information is available at their Web site at www.thepetosphere.com.