Dr. Gary Michelson was a spine surgeon and medical device inventor when he made more than a billion dollars in a patent case in 2005. A pet lover, he put a lot of the money in his animal welfare foundation.
Now his Found Animals Foundation Inc. has set up its first pet shop, but the goal isn’t just to sell chew toys and water dishes. The real mission is to find homes for unwanted animals from Los Angeles County shelters.
The foundation has opened Adopt & Shop at the South Bay’s Lakewood Center Mall. The storefront operation, with neighbors that include Nordstrom Rack and Costco, features both boutique-style pet supplies and pets for adoption supplied by the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority in Downey.
“Many people are intimidated by visiting a shelter, so we’ve decided to take the pets to the people,” said foundation Executive Director Aimee Gilbreath. “Our hope is that we’ll get people coming in for pet supplies who will see our animals and eventually take one home.”
The shop, run by a combination of paid and volunteer staff, will offer up to 15 dogs and 10 cats at a time. The adopted pets will be sterilized, vaccinated and microchipped, and they will go home with some starter supplies.
Adoption fees are comparable with what a shelter would charge: about $125 for puppies, $100 for dogs and $50 to $75 for cats. Most of that money goes back to the shelter.
While the foundation is paying for the launch of the first Adopt & Shop, Gilbreath said the goal is to be a model for other rescue groups by showing how the sale of pet supplies can make the operation more or less break even.
“That’s what we need to be able to do so we can teach other people how to do this around the country,” she said.
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