Local business owners make animals top priority

Local business owners make animals top priority

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Local animal-lovers are living up to the mantra that it only takes one individual to make a difference in the life of an animal.

After a 35-year career as an attorney, Buzz Miller turned his decades of part-time animal-rescue experiences into a full-time venture.

Miller launched Buzzy’s Bow Wow Meow in Narberth in 2007 and, beyond its retail component, the establishment is also dedicated to raising the public consciousness about the animal world. The store has hosted about 25 free community seminars on topics such as the dangers of puppy mills and the myths about pit bulls.

Miller’s nonprofit People/Animals=Companions Together most recently launched a collection program at Buzzy’s that garnered four truckloads of pet products for local animal shelters.

Since its opening, Buzzy’s has also adopted out more than 450 animals and, during last month’s KittyPalooza, adopted out 32 cats in just one afternoon.

“We need to get adoptions up as much as possible,” Miller said, “so with everything that we do, I want to increase awareness about the human-animal bond.”

That bond knows no age limits.

After witnessing scores of ailing cats and dogs at the SPCA, 9-year-old Ava Gutierrez proposed selling dog treats at a local park to raise money for the animals

“How could I say no to that?” said Ava’s mother, pet-supply store Doggie Style chief operating officer Claudia Gutierrez.

“Oporation Ava” has since helped to pay for surgeries for eight animals across the nation — including a kitten rescued from an abandoned building who was later adopted by the construction worker who found her.

While the program initially only focused on sick animals, Gutierrez said Ava and her 12-year-old sister Lexi wanted to expand it to support pet adoptions. Doggie Style stores house cat habitats where felines from the Philadelphia Community Cats Council can await adoptive families, and the program also works with dogs facing euthanasia, so far having adopted out 61 cats and 63 dogs.

New Jersey residents Heidi Duffy and Michelle Bryson-Rivers are doing their own part to provide for canines who’ve already found loving homes.

The best friends and business partners launched a local site of national Camp Bow Wow last fall in Cherry Hill, which provides both daycare and overnight boarding, but not in a typical kennel atmosphere.

“We focus a lot on the social environment,” Duffy said. “They get that interaction with other dogs and come home at night nice and tired and sleep well.”

The dogs are only kept in cages — or “cabins,” as the camp refers to them — when they go to sleep, and are each given a raised cot, “campfire” treat and fleece blanket. The camp boasts a 2,000-square-foot outdoor play area and also offers Web cams for owners to keep an eye on their pets.

“People can watch the dogs on the camera in the play yards, and it gives them that peace of mind so they know their dogs are being well taken care of,” Duffy said.

For more information on the agencies, visit www.oporationava.org, www.buzzysbowwowmeow.com and www.campbowwow.com/us/nj/cherryhill/.

Jen Colletta can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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