Wilmette Pet Center: These Guys Love Animals and it Shows!
David Cozzolino, owner of Wilmette Pet Center, was a manager at the store before he bought the business in 2007. | JACKIE PILOSSOPH~For Sun-Times Media
Dave’s three tips for good pet care:
1. Cleanliness: Cages should be cleaned often to remove bacteria.
2. Nutrition: Educate yourself on the natural diet of your pet’s natural environment and try to replicate that diet.
3. Stimuli: Animals need more than just a cage. They need emotional health. Play with them and show them love and affection several times a day.
Wilmette Pet Center
625 Green Bay Road
Hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
Updated: October 9, 2012 8:52AM
WILMETTE — Is it possible to own a pet shop if you’re not crazy about animals?
David Cozzolino, owner of Wilmette Pet Center, said no way.
“This is my passion. I love seeing kids come in here and get these big smiles on their faces when they play with the animals,” said the 47-year-old who happens to be the fourth owner of the store.
Cozzolino began working at Wilmette Pet Center in 1989 as the store manager. In 2007, the store was in decline, so he made an offer to purchase it. He then made some changes, increasing the staff and giving his employees lots of training on animal care.
“Customers need to go home and care for the pet in the right way,” he said, “So, I hire people who know how to care for animals and who like to teach that to the customers.”
Scott Symons, of Wilmette, bought his cat, fish and lizard at Wilmette Pet Center. He likes all the advice he gets here and that the staff really know animals.
“I hate big stores, and I really like personal service,” said Marlene Smith, of Winnetka, who has a dog and two guinea pigs she describes as “ugly but lovable.”
“You couldn’t find Dave at a PetSmart. He knows everything.”
Wilmette Pet Center is a full-line pet store that carries supplies, food, cages and other accessories. The store also sells fish, reptiles, birds and small exotic pets such as hamsters, hedgehogs, rabbits and guinea pigs.
When Cozzolino took over the store, he stopped selling puppies, and now only works with Adopt-a-Pet, a Mount Prospect-based, not-for-profit animal shelter that pulls animals from kill shelters, provides medical care and then arranges foster care.
“We wanted to promote the rescue of animals and make a difference in the community,” Cozzolino said. “My goal is to fill up the North Shore with mutts. It makes us feel great every time one of them finds a home.”
Customer Debby Fero, of Evanston, who has two dogs, a cat and a fire belly toad, describes herself as a “pet lover,” and said she comes here often to buy hedgehog food.
“I really appreciate the knowledge here,” she said, “Their love and enjoyment of animals is evident.”
“Pets teach commitment, responsibility and discipline,” Cozzolino said. “That’s something Xbox can’t teach.”
Cozzolino said he enjoys his store being located in Wilmette because it’s such a family-oriented community, the clientele is well-educated, and there’s a high concern for the well being of animals.
“The customers are constantly offering to take the dogs for walks, and they bring in old newspapers for us,” he said, “They’re always trying to help.”