Tazz Latifi from Petropolis.

Last February, when the city was closing, Tazz Latifi decided to close its natural pet supplies store in the financial district. With the doors of Petropolis closed, Latifi, like many small business owners in New York City, pondered the future of their retail space. “I didn’t know if I could do a retail business and my lease was imminent. At that moment I thought: Okay, perfect time, I could just turn everything off, ”she told me on the phone. “Then I got e-mails, after e-mails, after e-mails from customers.”

To reassure pet owners and ensure that the town’s pets are getting the care they need, Latifi decided to return to her shop. She walked downtown from her Midtown home two days a week to take pre-orders from customers. And then something interesting happened:

New Yorkers viewing quarantine as an ideal opportunity to raise the pooch of their dreams flocked to find shelters and available breeders. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), approximately 12.6 million households took in pets between March and December.

While the “puppy rush,” as Dogtopia CEO Neil Gill has called it, has boosted business in Petropolis, it is uncertain how long the sauce train will last. The ever-changing whims of the pandemic caught up with some of these pet owners, forcing them to give up their animals.

“There are so many people who have adopted and are doing well,” said Petropolis owner and founder Latifi. “Still, there are just as many people who shouldn’t have had pets, and we saw it when the shelters filled up again.”

Raising a new pet can be difficult in the best of circumstances. But imagine trying anything during a pandemic. For many, pets have been viewed as a solution to feelings of isolation and loneliness. “Many of the shelters were vacated because people wanted camaraderie,” said the owner of the Petropolis. “But they haven’t thought about what it takes to care for an animal.”

With all of the responsibilities associated with caring for an animal, animal nutrition is perhaps the most important, but often overlooked, area of ​​ownership. Petropolis was founded 16 years ago and specializes in animal health. It is one of only two independent pet stores in Manhattan, along with Whiskers Holistic Pet Care in the East Village, that offers a holistic approach to animal health.

Randy Klein, the owner of Whiskers, says wildlife is concerned about the impact of pet adoption during the pandemic. Many New Yorkers still work from home and can take care of their pets. However, as the restrictions ease, people are already returning to work. When owners grapple with these new lifestyle changes, their pet’s wellbeing can be most affected.

“The animals that are used to having [owners] Separation anxiety could develop in her house, number one, ”said Klein. “And number two, the owners might feel like it’s too much of a burden now. So this is what you should pay attention to in the future. “

The recent boom in pets has also sparked a boom in sales in the pet industry. Last month, the APPA announced that the national pet industry had annual sales of over $ 100 billion, for the first time in the history of the industry. This increase in business has impacted local pet stores as well.

“The increasing number of people adopting and buying more dogs and cats over the past year has certainly resulted in an increase in the pet retail business,” Klein said. “I think overall sales in the pet industry have improved.”

The APPA report also found that the pet care industry has sought to reflect current consumer trends such as “the desire for a healthier lifestyle” and “supplements for improved wellbeing”. Stores like Petropolis and Whiskers offer pet owners and their pets just that.

These days, Latifi’s shop is open to furry friends and their people seven days a week. In Petropolis, pet parents will find aisles with pet supplies, treats, toys and specialty pet food in frozen, dry, raw, dehydrated raw, gourmet and organic varieties. As a child, Latifi was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Her condition, she says, has given her a lifelong interest in proper holistic nutrition. “If the food is not managed, if I don’t eat the right foods, and if I don’t have the right diet, it affects everything,” said Latifi.

In March 2020, a dreary month amid the NYC pandemic, Latifi found a new way to provide pet parents with much-needed health support for their cat or dog. “It costs a lot to take care of an animal,” she said. “That’s why I did the podcast. To help people when they want to take the initiative and learn what’s going on or how to improve their animals. “

According to Latifi, the pet food industry can be messy and tangled as many pet food manufacturers focus on marketing to pet owners rather than focusing on animal health. In 40 episodes, the Petropolist podcast covered topics such as kidney disease in cats, “intolerance or allergies?”. and the pet food recalls related to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

“It comes down to education and how best to help others,” said former podcast guest Nicole Cammack, founder of NorthPoint Pets & Company.

For Brooklyn-American Claudia Gonzalez, pet nutrition became essential after her Labradoodle mix, Bobby, was diagnosed with cancer in 2019. After a veterinarian found that Bobby only had weeks to live, Gonzalez visited Petropolis in search of one last hope.

The changes Latifi made to the dog’s diet added Bobby’s life by a year and a half, Gonzalez believes. “I really thought I would give my dog ​​the best food,” she said. “I’m very grateful for her because I think her knowledge will keep the Bobby family a little longer.”

Latifi’s goal now is to use The Petropolist’s podcast to support her counseling work and one day make the transition to full-time animal nutrition counseling. “What I love is talking to consumers and helping them guide them,” she said.

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