A two-room retail cum pet clinic station with all the necessary items and counseling required by a pet's owner, from feed to expert advice was started in May last year to address the needs of pet lovers in the valley.
The journey of two young people to aware people about the proper way to handle pets let them to the formation of Pet Lounge, a clinic and special care centre for pets.
Basim Rasool (23), Murshid Shahid (23) from Sanatnagar and Rawalpora respectively, came up with this idea and are working hard to make their passion for animals a relevant thing in Kashmir.
Basim is a graduate and Murshid an engineering student and both took time out from their studies to learn about pet care in detail. Both of them own pets since a very long time now and want to help others as well.
"I had adopted a local cat, and all of a sudden she died. I was attached to her and I felt that it might happen to anyone and they have nowhere to go for treatment or help. So the idea was born then and there, and I did a lot of research about it," says Basim Rasool.
Growing up with pets at home, made them love them even more but they always thought that a proper knowledge and care was the need of the hour.
"Since childhood I had an attraction for animals, and I used to feed stray dogs, but it was not something that I knew a lot about. At that time feeding them was the only thing, so over the years I read books on animals, pets care and learnt a few things about them," Murshid.
They felt there was a need for a center where all the pet lovers could come with their queries, so they started working and researching about food, breeds, and their healthcare.
"We went to Gurgaon, Delhi, Mumbai and visited the pet houses there and learnt a lot about the care and other necessities, it took us six months to come up with an idea to make it a thing to happen," says Basim.
They began at a very small scale, purchased a few things and initiated the clinic.
"We rented two rooms in Rajbagh, bought feed, accessories and in the first week only we got customers coming in with their queries and doubts. We could provide them with the information we had but when it came to treatment an expert was needed, so we hired some local and national level vets who come and visit after every 15 days," says Murshid.
Animals are an important part of our nature and we should be a little sensitive towards them.
"Making animal care a business was not earlier our idea, but we had always wanted people to know about their pets and tame them in a way that is followed by the rest of the world," Murshid adds.
According to the duo people here in Kashmir want to have pets but they don't know where to go, so this center of theirs is a step forward in that direction.
"We sell animals; lend them for adoption as well. People are fond of animals especially cats and dogs, but they don't know how to take care so they prefer not to buy. But as soon the clinic became functional a lot of youngsters came to us for buying or asking things about animal care. And that has given us the hope that it has future," says Basim.
Products that are sold in the clinic are of high quality and are bought from outside the state.
"We supply quality products to keep the pets healthy. They are not, though, expensive at all," says Murshid.
Initially a very little number of people were visiting the place but as the word about the clinic started a number of people, particularly youngsters, started to pour in. Kashmir didn't had any proper pet clinic, and these guys' effort is to fill that gap.
"Young people are more into it; I would say most of our customers are teenagers or youngsters. Sometimes parents too drop in to buy a cat or a dog for their kids; they want them to come out of their rooms, away from mobiles and laptops. Pets are considered to relieve tension," says Basim.
They have hired an expert who transports the animals from outside the state and who looks after the pets till they are delivered here.
"He is a specialist who knows how to handle animals, so we let him buy the pet and he travels along with them keeping in mind all the necessary things," adds Murshid.
They say that the demand of pets has gone up since they started.
"I would say that they demand for pets in Kashmir has more than doubled in last one year. Not only cats and dogs, but lot of people here are interested in keeping birds as well," says Basim.
In near future the duo are planning to visit local schools for awareness.
"Kids are more fascinated by animals and we want them to know that it can be done following a proper procedure, and that is why we are aiming at schools-lecturing young students about different aspects of animal keeping, particularly their health and hygiene," said Basim.
They also want to create a brand Pet Longue in every part of the country.
"If things work out really well, we want to extend our work and reach out to first the people throughout the state then the country," aims the duo.