Nov. 23, 2010 By Christian Murray
Two months ago, Abdel Rios decided he wanted to establish a pet store in Sunnyside, traditionally a peaceful neighborhood that is known for its dog-lovers.
Eight weeks on, Rios, the founder of Skillman Pets, has encountered a different reality. His car has been scratched up; he continues to receive a constant flow of threatening e-mails; as well as many angry voicemail messages.
This hostility toward Rios began shortly after he put a sign in his store window (at 49-16 Skillman Ave.) that he would sell puppies. “I thought people would think…oh, they’re so cute,” Rios said, envisaging he would have about 4 or 5 dogs in his store at any one time.
But he was mistaken. Many people were outraged, arguing that his store would be just another puppy mill.
“Many people have reasonable fears about puppy mills,” Rios said, adding that he sought “to sell dogs with papers — that included the names of the parents and grandparents.”
Rios said that he will not sell puppies “in the foreseeable future”, and will respect the community’s wishes. Therefore, when he opens Dec. 1, he will be offering grooming services, pet products and food supplies.
He said his aim is to have weekly meetings in his store where he can discuss issues that are bothering the community.