I was asked in kindergarten and somehow I already knew and was the only kid in the class to say...
Born and raised in Iowa on the Mississippi river, I loved all creatures and was known as a “river rat”. Spending every extra minute playing in the creeks and rivers or hanging out in the “pet stores”. Creatures were my life.
My room and sometimes the basement, garage, shed, backyard, and barn. Where full of different creatures from all over. Tadpoles in baby pools, turtles in the shed, chickens, ducks, turkeys, snakes, fish, rabbits, lizards, pigs, pigeons, frogs, you name it. My childhood was a regular zoo!
Then one summer I went to Florida to visit my grandparents. My grandpa was a captain and a fishermen, my grandma however loved the ocean and all the life in it. I’m not sure why but we went out in the boat to go fishing. I remember we got sick because we ate cold pizza and warm Pepsi for breakfast. Not sure if it had anything to do with it but somehow my grandmother had hooked a huge fish, she began fighting the creature for what seemed like hours. Finally they pull in this 1000lb. 12 ft. Record breaking Marlin. My grandpa was so excited, he couldn’t wait to tell everybody and get it stuffed for the wall. It was the catch of a lifetime. It was laying on the deck exhausted, it’s heart pounding like a wild stallion it looked at us with big black eyes and then I saw it, it spoke to me through his eyes to mine, he was afraid and scared but the proud beast somehow seemed like a friend out of water in need of our help. My grandma must have heard the same plea as I did and without even hesitating said “let it go”. I didn’t know it then but only reason my grandpa did not argue with her that day was because that was the last fish she would ever catch, she died from bone cancer later that year. So we pulled off the suckers on the great fish and let it go free. As we watched it swim away nobody said anything we just knew it was the right thing to do. A life for a life.
Nobody tells the kids until after, then they try to explain in terms they don’t even understand. The only thing I understood was my grandma loved the ocean enough to give back the last fish she would ever catch and somehow I believed she went with it.
So I went back to Iowa and began studying sealife, working with and in local “pet stores” breeding seahorses and later, wholesale facility’s, and aquariums.
A dream of having my own “pet store” developed over the years, I tried other jobs, but I always came back to my life’s passion. Which at the time I though was to own my own “pet store”.
So I started my first “pet store” and just like all other “pet stores” I had everything, fresh and saltwater tanks, frogs, dogs, turtles, cats, mice, rats, crickets, snakes, goldfish, lizards, hamsters, on and on….
You know the smell…the smell of too many creatures all mixed together with a bunch of junk that nobody needs anyway. I followed “The Pet Store For Dummy” manual and did the same things I have seen others do for years. Now a “pet store owner” and an adult, I soon realized the difference between a childhood dream and a nightmare…is the smell…the smell of “old school”.
We are taught to believe what others and the books tell us. When all along they are just telling us what they were told and learned from others in the past. Right or wrong ideas that have been pasted down just because “that’s the way it is”. When many are fundamentally wrong but are still taught because they don’t know any better. “Pet stores” haven’t changed since they were invented. Too many creatures all mixed together not being cared for properly and sold by people that couldn’t possibly know how to care for them all with the smell of death in the air.
Truth is, I was a “Dummy” for ever having the dream of owning a killing machine of rare and precious creatures from around the world.
Now thinking “outside the books” I have discovered the truth and I am on the mission to expose the industry for what it really is. From the collecting stations to the “National Aquariums” and Zoos the corruption and stupidity run deep. P.H.D.’S. in old school are everywhere and nobody wants to tell the truth because they don’t want to lose control over other life forms for money.
The creatures of the world are here to enrich our lives in many ways, but like all life have certain rights not to be mistreated by others that have more power than them.
Truth is…nobody is qualified to decide the fate of so many innocent lives they actually know very little about.
If I could go back to the days I loved this hobby, before it was a job, I would tell myself…
“Pet Stores are for Dummies”
So I decided to close my “Pet Store” and specialize in being a “Saltwater Rescue Center” instead. Saving and recycling life, while using any profits to give back to the very creatures I use to take from and since every life was priceless including my grandma, I figure I owe the rest of my life in exchange for the life, the lessons, and missions they have given me the privilege to be apart of.
John Lovewell, X- "Pet Store Owner"!!!