How to Open a Pet Store & How to Find Animals

Updated November 21, 2016

Owning a pet shop is fun and challenging. Helping people find that perfect pet or supplying them with the food and supplies they need is fulfilling work. The challenge is finding quality pets and caring for them until they find their homes.

Decide what type of animal and pet supplies you would like to sell. This decision will affect your location. For example, a pet shop that sells dogs needs more space than one that sells only fish. But a pet shop that sells fish needs excellent plumbing, heating and cooling. Choose a niche for the pet shop and focus on that animal or even breed for a speciality feel. This is the best option for a small shop. Focus on the best pet food and treats for that animal. Offer the best bedding and kennel options. Choosing a niche market will also allow you to get to know your customers better. Take this information and write a business plan.

Find a good location for a pet shop in a residential community. It's easier to sell pets from an independent building rather than a mall, because there may be noise or odour involved. Find a location near good traffic flow, but not on an extremely busy street if animals are to be carried in and out.

Hire professionals to go over all of the paperwork. Apply for all necessary sales tax licenses, and make sure the zoning in the building you want to use allows a pet store. Check the livestock and pet laws in your area and draw up a pet adoption agreement accordingly. Draw up any return policies at this time. Contact the department of agriculture in your state to set up an inspection for licensing to sell and kennel animals. Purchase business insurance.

Hire adequate help for the amount of livestock you will offer as pets. Offering pets for sale is an excellent customer draw but requires a lot of cleaning and handling. Make sure to hire staff old enough to understand the responsibilities of working with animals. Look for assistants with expertise in the type of pet they are hired to care for and have the ability to answer customer questions.

Find dry stock vendors for pet supplies and food. Look online as well as locally. Some online distributors offer deep discounts and free shipping on large orders, so consider this for initial orders. Find local dealers for all fresh food needs, or visit farmers markets. Find local artists or crafts people willing to sell their goods through your shop to show support for the community and unique pet supplies.

Help a rescue in need of store space and adoption help. This is the most community-oriented way to stock a pet shop with livestock. You can either lease part of the shop to the rescue at a discount or write it off as a tax donation. The shelter provides veterinary work and pet guarantees to adopting families. The benefit of this is the release of liability for the pet shop owner. No covering of expensive vet bills or dealing with pet returns.

Find reputable local breeders. Look online and talk to other pet owners about where they got their pets and if they would recommend the breeders. Tour any breeder before making any commitments to purchase animals. Personally inspect all areas where animals are kept. If a breeder refuses to let you see an area or tour at all, choose a different breeder. Check with the top breeders clubs in your area. Generally speaking, the smaller the breeder the better. Smaller breeders have more time to handle animals, a big plus for pet livestock.

Find pet distributors for livestock delivery of exotic pets or large fish orders. There are some larger pet distributors that have excellent customer service and livestock guarantees. These are for the hard-to-find small animal, reptile or fish. Keep in mind these animals will likely not be well handled when arriving at the shop. Daily handling will be required to ease the pet's anxieties. Check off-site customer reviews of any major pet distributorship before ordering livestock.


Try livestock vendors out with a very minimum order first. If you are satisfied, order larger quantities. Always start a new breed of livestock with a minimum order. Visit private farms or breeders to ensure cleanliness and proper licensing.


Never support a puppy mill of any kind. Veterinary care for sick dogs will cost more than going to a quality breeder. The community will also turn on a pet shop that supports puppy mills. A puppy mill is generally a large breeding facility where the dogs severely outnumber the handlers and are kept in kennels at all times.

Things You'll Need

  • Business plan
  • Building
  • Pet food
  • Pet supplies
  • Pet carriers (all sizes)
  • Fish supplies (optional)
  • Reptile supplies
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