You know, you have to give it to Petco: They stand by their policies, even when people might push them to the limit.
Petco, as you may be aware, has a policy that says all leashed pets are welcome in the store.
For most of us, this means our golden lab or pit bull or maybe a cat if you can get one to walk on a leash.
Perhaps, if you’re going to test the waters a bit, you could bring in a pig or a snake. I’m assuming you could get a leash on those, after all, and it would certainly make for an interesting story.
An African watusi, however, is a different matter.
All of the above has recently become important because a rancher decided to bring his trained steer into a Petco in Atascocita, Texas earlier this month.
It wasn’t necessarily unplanned.
Vincent Browning’s steer, Oliver, has gained a certain amount of regional fame due to the fact that he’s a trained bovine who often makes appearances at events.
“Vincent, who is a 1992 Bud Light World Champion Bull Rider, has raised Oliver since he was 6 months old. Oliver has traveled the southern states meeting new people and partaking in events,” the Houston Chronicle reported. Browning and his fiancée, Shelly Lumpkin, “picked Petco because they wanted to take Oliver somewhere where he has never been before,” the newspaper added.
“We went in (Petco) and (an associate) came out to see (Oliver) in the trailer, and she said ‘bring him in,’ and I said ‘are you serious’? She talked to her manager and her manager said ‘yeah bring him in as long as you clean up the mess.’ We brought him in there and he did great,” Lumpkin told the Chronicle.
“We didn’t take him down the aisles or anything. We just sat him up front and let everybody pet him.”
“We decided to take a chance and call Petco ‘s bluff on the ‘ALL LEASHED PETS ARE WELCOME’ policy,” Browning wrote in a Facebook post.
“The awesome crew at Petco – Atascocita did not disappoint!! They welcomed Oliver the African Watusi with open arms. The staff members here are always super friendly and courteous to us. We really enjoy coming to this location…our favorite Petco BY FAR!!”
“I didn’t think a major chain like that would be open to us bringing him in, but we were just kind of testing the waters on that all-leashed-pets-welcome policy they have,” Lumpkin told the Chronicle.
“It was exciting and just something we really wanted to do anyways. So it just really kind of fit that we got there (and) came at the right time when the right people were there. They welcomed him with open arms, everyone was so excited.”
And a Petco executive seemed pretty OK with it — which is unsurprising, considering the amount of good publicity the viral story has gotten.
“At Petco, everything is guided by our vision for healthier pets, happier people and a better world,” Jonathan Williamson, Petco’s vice president of animal care, education and merchandising, told the Chronicle.
“We’re proud to celebrate the human-animal bond by welcoming all domesticated companion animals to our stores. We’re so glad that our guests and store partners got to experience this fun and happy moment with Oliver, the African Watusi, because that’s what Petco is all about.”
Leave it to a Texas rancher to test the limits of Petco’s policies. After all, those ranchers do know their animals. The bond that Browning and Oliver have, it seems, is as real as any of us have with our dogs.
Kudos to this Petco, too, for being cool with it. It ended up getting them a lot of positive attention.
Others might have been petty and wondered what would happen in a litigious society. Instead, they ended up with some free publicity that’s better than any commercial.
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