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Dumont Pet Store Grows As Community Unto Itself

Christine Peterson, center, assistant manager of Pet Valu in Dumont, with some of her staffers.
Christine Peterson, center, assistant manager of Pet Valu in Dumont, with some of her staffers. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Hanging paper paws, each of which features the name of a customer who donated to the U.S. War Dogs Association.
Hanging paper paws, each of which features the name of a customer who donated to the U.S. War Dogs Association. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Working the counter at Pet Valu.
Working the counter at Pet Valu. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash

DUMONT, N.J. — Sabrina Marino of Dumont stopped in at Pet Valu on Washington Street Wednesday to pick up a sparkly collar for Maleficent, her Akita.

She likes to pamper her dog, a gift from her father after her husband’s recent death.

“This is the best store ever,” said Marino, 51. “We bring Maleficent in here. She walks around and picks out her own little bones.”

The whole staff, including Christine Peterson, assistant manager, loves watching every animal that comes in grow or recover from whatever may ail them.

The place has the feel of a neighborhood mom-and-pop, Peterson said, which is what lured her out of a 15-year career running a picture frame shop.

“I left a big box company, where everything is nameless and faceless, for this new job, which has a really cool atmosphere,” she said.

Pet Valu runs adoption days Saturdays and Sundays; hosts monthly vet clinics where people can bring their pets for nail clippings, vaccinations, and microchips; runs Senior Day the last Tuesday of the month; offers pictures of pets with Santa; runs seminars; and keeps an extensive local resources table.

“We get a ton of traffic just from people looking for adoptions,” Peterson said. “What really works out nicely is that our customers who adopt come back. We get to see the pets grow. We get a nice relationship going with them, which is great.””

There are lots of priceless moments, she said.

On Tuesday, a little girl came in and bought a Betta fish. They’re all males, Peterson said, but the young customer named hers Lauretta.

“We had to babysit Lauretta while they went next door to Stop ‘n’ Shop,” she added.

She loves letting a cockapoo, another regular, lick her face and chew her nose. She likes showing one customer, a big burly man, how to feed kitten milk substitute out of a nursing bottle to a bunny he saved from a dog attack.

“We get to see Penny, who is an adorable pit bull,” said staffer Joanna Ballendorf, who whipped out a smartphone and scrolled through pictures of the dog. “You know what I love? She’s got the one brown eye but over her brown spot, she’s got the blue eye.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, another staffer hung paper paws around the entryway to the store. Each features the name of a customer who donated to the cause of the month — the U.S. War Dogs Association.

Lorenzo’s Dog Training Team will be at Pet Valu, 40 Washington St., noon to 3 p.m. July 16.

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