Where Pets Come First

By Dan McDougal
Wednesday - September 26, 2007
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The Pet Discount ohana
The Pet Discount ohana (from left): Bryson Dezsy, Dan McDougal, Norma Batangan, Jose Martin Matsuda, Nick Fisher, Rose Lorenzo, Kehau Hiona, Anita Butay, Eleanor Rivera, Danielle Bruno and Ricky Baker

Both my partner Dirk Budd and I have extensive backgrounds in animals and zoology. After traveling the world many times over, we arrived in Hawaii in 1982 and immediately knew we were in paradise. We started a Hawaii-based business taking care of the exotic bird quarantine station for the federal government. It is from there that we were approached by residents to bring purebred puppies to the Islands, as they were a rarity. Residents of Hawaii just wanted healthy purebred puppies!

The requests for more puppies increased tenfold, and by 1991 we had opened our first Pet’s Central business, offering purebred registered puppies from Australia (a rabies-free country). We saw the demand, believed it would work, but like most businesses, struggled as we lived off of instant saimin for quite a while. (Our dogs ate better than we did!) It was during these tough times, though, that we developed countless long-term friendships and loyal business associates. Most of all, we got a full understanding and appreciation of “ohana.”

As our knowledge of the pet industry grew, so did the business. With the puppies came a sister company, Pet’s Discount, which sells pet products and merchandise. We decided to take the leap, and used all of our connections to bring in container loads of merchandise. Because of the enormous volume of quality pet products that we bring to Hawaii, we are able to offer consumers substantial savings. This, in turn, brought us more customers and we developed closer bonds to the people of Hawaii.

Fast forward this success story and today we are proud business owners of five Oahu Pet’s Discount locations with three more planned in Kaimuki, Kapolei and Ewa very shortly. Our Pet’s Central puppy business has grown as well with a solid increase of quality purebred puppies from Australia. And while Hawaii just can’t get enough puppies, we now sell locally bred purebred and mixed-breed puppies at Pet’s Discount. In fact, we’ve been in the Hawaii puppy business for so long, that we’re now seeing second generation Pet’s Central purebred puppies!

Yes, our success has the basic ingredients such as having merchandise in demand, great locations, fair pricing and positive attitudes, but I want to tell you our theory of success, which is based on appreciation and care, the “malama” of the full circle.

It has always been our company policy to be actively involved with community pet outreach programs. The golden rules at Pet’s Central and Pet’s Discount are: Animals first, customers second and us third. So for nearly 25 years, Dirk, our CFO/COO Ricky Baker, myself and the majority of our 73 employees get involved! As we consider ourselves to be “pet experts,” we strive to help people understand and care for animals, the world they live in, and how love plays such a large role in the overall health of the dog, cat, bird, fish, rabbit, tortoise, geckos or whatever!

Like taking care of Mother Earth, we need to all take care of Mother Nature’s critters. We assist the Hawaii Humane Society with fundraising drives and awareness of pet adoptions, community pet walks, and even assist them with local calendar sales.

Pet’s Discount donates pet food and other supplies to The Animal Haven, a no-kill shelter that is tirelessly run by Bonnie Pang in Waianae, and the Hawaii Dog Foundation, another local rescue operator. As volunteers take abandoned or abused pets into their home for food and shelter every evening, Pet’s Discount helps these two pet shelters with pet adoptions.

When the opportunity arises, Pet’s Discount is quick to perform classroom demonstrations for DOE public school children, giving them a special insight to animals and how to care for them. And as children always need more incentives, we have successfully participated with a few Hawaii State Libraries’ summer reading programs. As the child completes their summer reading goals at the local library, they are awarded a free Betta fish and bowl! I don’t think I finished very many books in my early years, but man, Hawaii kids can’t wait for their own Betta. We’re even involved with local dog clubs and doggy parks!

Pet shelters aren’t the only organizations we get involved with. Along with two Oahu Rotary Clubs, we work together to help the Future Light Orphanage in Cambodia. With more than 200 orphans, our goal is to help the orphanage’s ability to feed each child, and provide medicine, toys, clothes and basic necessities on a daily basis.

There are many more organizations with which we are involved. It seems the more charitable organizations we involve and associate ourselves with, the healthier we become in mind, body, spirit and finance. With at least three more Oahu Pet’s Discount store openings and possible Neighbor Island expansions, comes more local employees, more vendors, more pet products, more shelters, more compassion, more involvement and so forth and so on. Most of all, we truly hope that Hawaii pets, awareness, education, and the “malama” will always flourish.

This is what our success and ohana is based on. We are in the pet business and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We thank all of our family members, employees, friends, business associates, as well as the children and people of Hawaii for allowing us live, work and play, and give back to you.

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