P.A. pet store expands into Sequim

When customers started asking Shell-ey Van Cleave to open a second pet store in Sequim, the Port Angeles business owner responded by saying, "Are you crazy? It's the middle of a recession."

Now, that's exactly what she's doing.

Tiny Bubbles is expected to open in the Rock Plaza - at the roundabout intersection of Old Olympic Highway and Sequim Avenue - today, May 20, assuming the store passes fire code inspection and the replacements for the large fish tanks, which arrived broken, show up on time.

"Part of me is completely out of my mind," Van Cleave said. "But every day we hear from people that say they can't wait until we open."

A four-day grand opening celebration is scheduled from June 4-7.

Dr. Brian Marts and Dr. Heather Short of Sequim Animal Hospital and the United States Department of Agriculture, set the rules and regulations Tiny Bubbles follows for the health and safety of the animals and customers.

"If they walk through the door and say a puppy wall isn't high enough, that will be changed immediately," Van Cleave said. "We must follow their rules. That's what we've agreed to do for ourselves and for the community."

The rules include:

_ Requiring that customers sanitize their hands before and after handling pets.

_ Not allowing customers to enter the puppy or kitten rooms if they've been exposed to pets from a different store or household that day.

_ Requiring that people wear hospital gowns over their clothes before handling an animal.

_ Reinforcing that puppies and kittens are up-to-date on vaccinations, inspected by a veterinarian and receive a "healthy pet" certificate before they are admitted into the store.

Both sites offer a 100-percent money-back guarantee if a customer is unsatisfied with his or her purchase, plus a lifetime guarantee on all animals based on a contract signed at the time of purchase.

When the Sequim store is up and running, it will feature kittens, puppies, birds, small animals, fish, reptiles and exotic animals such as prairie dogs, chipmunks, possums and hedgehogs.

"And for the record, we do not buy (from) or support puppy mills," Van Cleave said.

Background checks are performed on every breeder to ensure he or she follows proper protocols.

"I'm proud to say," Van Cleave said while knocking on the wooden counter top, "I've never, ever, had a disease in my store."

The Sequim store will feature a full-service grooming salon, doggy day care, a doggy day spa, mirrors and a dressing room.

Van Cleave has more than 34 years experience in the pet industry.

"When I was about 8 years old, I started a pet store in my parents' basement," she said.

"They told me, 'When you grow up you have to live on a farm and own a pet store.'"

That's exactly what she did.

Ashley Miller can be reached at ashleyo@

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