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The Big Survey

An Employee Did Needlepoint in Doggie Day Care Plus 15 Other Times Staff Left Their Bosses Speechless

And that’s not even the wildest story independent pet retailers and service providers shared in our 2022 Big Survey.




Editor’s note: In our first-ever Big Survey, we asked independent pet retailers and service providers to answer 69 questions about how they do business and the industry itself. These owners and top managers — 520 to be exact, from across the U.S. and Canada — shared all in the anonymous survey conducted online from mid-August through October.

Our inaugural, soon-to-be-annual Big Survey didn’t just ask for stats and figures. We asked respondents a variety of open-ended questions to learn more about their day to day. Some of the answers to this particular query also left us speechless!

60. Tell us about when an employee left you speechless. In a good, bad or weird way!


My manager had to take over running the store when I was out with a fractured leg. I told him I’d give him weekly bonus pay for the duration. He 1) called me to ask if I could give his bonus to another employee who’d just lost her grandmother and needed extra money, then 2) told me he realized that his overtime was eating into payroll costs, and he trained both employees to close so he could take some time off and lessen the cost for me. I literally cried both times.

When we first opened and didn’t have managers yet, a twentysomething employee making $12 an hour surprised me with an entire handbook for front desk operations. She wrote it in her spare time without telling me. I was beyond impressed. She has since moved on to becoming a groomer.

Recently, I sat down with two of our receptionists to review incidents that occurred with one of our managers. One told me that the days she gets to work with me are some of her best. The second quickly agreed. While we give reviews every three
to six months to our employees, it’s rare that I ever get any feedback for myself as a business owner. This was absolutely wonderful to hear, and possibly made my entire year.

Caught an employee with booze in his cup. Confronted him, and he said he had no idea how it got there. Let him go. Was a great employee otherwise, and I told him if he ever got his act together and got help, I would happily hire him back. He came back six months sober and had turned his life around! Hired him on the spot.



Delivery driver that took a 12-foot truck under a 10-foot bridge … clearly marked with all kinds of warnings, but he thought he could make it.

During day care, policies are very clear that hands should be free and ready to pet dogs or pull them apart. A staff member decided to read a book, in a room of 50 dogs. She was reprimanded. Said it didn’t specifically say, “No reading of books” in our manual. So we changed the manual. She then brought in knitting needles and began knitting in day care. She said, “It doesn’t say I can’t in the rule book. And oh by the way, I wasn’t knitting; I was doing needlepoint.” As if small, sharp needles aren’t even more dangerous to pets! She was terminated, and then sent her mommy to our location to fight for her job back.

Had two leave, no notice — then ask why we took away their discount.

When they couldn’t figure out how to work a mop. Claimed to never have used one. Never saw one being used. Never apparently watched a movie or even a cartoon with one in it. Held it outstretched, dry and pulled it between their legs. Speechless.

A newer employee was not scanning all of the items being purchased. I corrected him to get through the sale. Later he said, “But they were all the same thing.”



A female Asian employee filed a claim that we were racist against female Asian employees. When the Department of Labor called, I took the call and made sure that the first words out of my mouth were that I was the female Filipino owner of the business and the person we fired was let go because of endless mistakes
with cash. The call lasted two min- utes. We were found not guilty.

An employee who wasn’t perform- ing told me she didn’t need me to tell her how to do her job.

Had a model employee — bright, great smile, eager to help, custom- ers loved him. One morning, he was arrested for pulling armed robberies on his way to work.

Hired a new employee. Everything went great in the interview. Her first day I told her our standing rule was to greet the dog before the person. She wasn’t doing what I had showed her.

I asked her to practice on the next customer, and she said, “I would, but I don’t like dogs.” Guess I forgot to ask that question during her interview.

Employee took us to small claims court over small personal items (fork, spoon, toothbrush) they supposedly left when terminated.


I had a groomer walk away from a man who was telling her that his wife had died. Literally walked away mid-sentence. After I listened to him finish his story, I asked if she realized she walked away and her reply was, “Yes. I don’t want to hear that shit, I’m just here to groom his dog!”

I recently had an employee tell me that my business partners (my family) shouldn’t be partners if they didn’t plan on stepping up more.

See the answers to all 69 questions in our November-December issue, mailing out Nov. 15. A big thank you to the American Pet Products Association for sponsoring our inaugural survey!



NASC Media Spotlight

At first it was just an idea: Animal supplements needed the same quality control that human-grade supplements receive. But that was enough to start a movement and an organization —the National Animal Supplement Council — that would be dedicated to establishing a comprehensive path forward for the animal supplements industry. In this Media Spotlight interview, NASC’s president, Bill Bookout, talks to PETS+ interviewer Chloe DiVita about the industry today: Where it’s headed, what’s the latest focus and why it’s vital to gain the involvement of independent pet product retailers.

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