The wait is nearly over for Whanganui pet owners with news that Animates, one of the country's largest pet shop brands, is opening a store in the city and providing jobs for at least 12 people.
Jacquie Baigent, national brand and partnerships manager for Animates, said the store would open toward the end of the year at 299 Victoria Ave in a building on the corner of the Avenue and Dublin St.
Until recently the building housed the Salvation Army home store.
Ms Baigent said they would be "tailoring" the building to accommodate the store, along with a grooming and "do-it-yourself" dog wash facility.
"We will likely have up to 12 roles for locals. This will include store management team, inventory management, sales and groomers. We start recruiting around September," she said.
She said while the new store would be supported by the national office, "supporting our local team is the most important role we have as this will be Whanganui's store and run by locals".
Animates is a New Zealand-operated company which started in Christchurch more than 20 years ago and now has about 40 stores operating nationwide.
Ms Baigent said Animates was committed to making the world a happier place through the love of pets.
"Everything we do is about our pets living happier, healthier and longer lives because that makes us humans happier."
The Victoria Ave store will offer the same range of products and pets as every other store in the retail chain. That includes advice on pet nutrition, exercise, health and training.
"We also cover off fashion, pet adoption, insurance and grooming. The store will host education events for families to help kids learn how to be responsible and great pet parents through our school holiday programme," she said.
Another aspect of the store's operation will be working with the SPCA to find homes for animals.
"We've worked with the SPCA since 2010 to find homes for rescued pets as part of the Animates/SPCA Saving Lives programme. Through this relationship we've been able to help find nearly 12,000 pets a home."
The franchise also works with the Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust, helping fundraise for puppies that are trained to help Kiwis with physical disabilities. Over the last two years they have funded four puppies at a cost of $45,000 each.
Opening a branch in Whanganui holds special significance for Ms Baigent, who was born and educated here and still has family here.