Puppy Pete always loved animals and his first real job was cleaning up after them. He worked animal care weekends cleaning animal poop and feeding the animals at the Dr. Pet Center in the Naugatuck Valley Mall in Waterbury, CT. Puppy Pete was sixteen years old. Puppy Pete worked at that pet store, learning about animals throughout high school and went on to college in Boston where he also worked at pet stores part time. Upon graduation from college, he applied for and was hired as store manager of that same Waterbury Dr. Pet Center. The store won numerous national awards for sales, cleanliness, and customer service. Puppy Pete was promoted to supervise additional stores, throughout Connecticut and up and down the east coast. His passion for animals was contagious. Supervising twenty stores, Pete didn’t enjoy losing touch with the animals, so he left the big company and became general manager for Pets For You in Berlin, CT. Three years later, that store tragically burned down. But when one door closes, sometimes another door opens. There was a new mall being built in Waterbury, CT called the Brass Mill Center.
Puppy Pete’s dream was coming true. He would open his own, “worlds cleanest, healthiest pet store.” At the age of thirty-seven would have his own zoo- twenty one years after the dream began-he had come a long way from cleaning poop at age sixteen! The Gentle Jungle pet store opened in December 1997. His wife Lucia would run the office, balance the books, pay the bills and do all the office work behind the scenes, so Pete could be in the store working with the animals and customers. He hired one of the best animal lovers and pet store minds in New England to operate the store with him; Her name is Darcie Robinson. Together they assembled a team, hired a veterinarian to supervise the health of the animals, and operated a terrific pet store in the Brass Mill Center until 2008. The Westfield Meriden Mall offered Gentle Jungle a spot in their mall, and offered to contribute money to build a brand new facility for the pets. Pete decided the move to Meriden was a good one, and they opened in May 2008. The pet store continues under Puppy Pete and Darcie’s supervision to provide countless happy, healthy pets to the people and families of Connecticut and surrounding states.
As of 2012, over 20,000 puppies and over 4,000 kittens have been placed. And countless birds, bunnies, ferrets, lizards, snakes, and simple goldfish that have brought joy to many families.