From landmark pet shop to nonprofit adoption center, Andy's Pet Shop in San Jose to be re-characterized

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Andy's Pet Shop in San Jose has served the South Bay community and beyond for nearly 70 years.

Co-owner, Lissa Shoun took over the business in 2007. She and her husband moved the storefront to 51 Notre Dame Avenue in 2010.

"When we moved in here, we were broke," Shoun told ABC7 News. "We had no money. We couldn't fix the floor. The rats saved us."

ABC7 News was there as Andy's put 1,400 rats up for adoption. The rodents were removed from the home of a hoarder, in Los Angeles.

While times have changed, Shoun explained that Andy's is still facing major challenges.

"We bought it in late-2007 with the intention of going all-rescue pets," she said. "Which we've been doing ever since then. It does not pay the bills."

She and her husband can no longer afford costs to care for the critters, or afford to pay rent. So, the shop will soon be recharacterized as a nonprofit adoption center.

"We would like the adoption center-- the animal side of things to be a nonprofit because there's more money available for grants and support, volunteers and so on," Shoun said. "A nonprofit would be able to do so much more than we've been able to and it would also make it possible for us to continue, financially speaking."

"We're paying for all of their vet expenses, all of their medication," employee, Alex Rabenstein told ABC7 News.

Rabenstein said she understands that isn't a sustainable business practice.

Rabenstein showed us around the center, introducing us to the hundreds up for adoption.

"It really doesn't balance out the amount of money that goes into taking care of them, versus how much we're adopting them out for," Rabenstein explained.

Rabenstein also explained purchasing food has become a commonality.

"I want to do it. A lot of these animals are omnivores, so I'll just go and pick up some greens for them," Rabenstein explained.

Shoun said, "A nonprofit adoption center means we could adopt many more animals and could get the resources needed to care for them."

Care comes at a cost, but it's the quality Andy's customers say they've noticed.

"I've seen plenty of things not adoptable yet, that were taken care of," Mary Stottlemyer said. "Then a couple weeks later, they're ready to go."

Stottlemyer said she's shopped at Andy's for nearly 20 years.

Among the shop's monetary challenges, its downtown location could soon be met with new development- a tower with homes, offices, and retail.

However, Shoun said that's a challenge for another day.

"It takes time for these things. There's a big backlog," she said. "So, I'm hoping for another year or two before we have to look for another place to move."

Click this link to visit Andy's Pet Shop website and for more information on the shop's recharacterization.

Check out more stories and videos about Building a Better Bay Area.
Copyright © 2019 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.