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Spring 2009 Dayton Mall Purr-fect Setting for Meowza

Most clothing stores offer a dressing room for customers to try on potential new purchases. At Meowza, customers can try on a new addition to the household-a feline friend.

The inline store at the Dayton Mall in Dayton, Ohio allows customers to spend quality time in a makeshift living-room-style setting with small, lovable little creatures that may end up becoming a much more important part of the customer’s life than a new sweater ever could.

Meowza opened late last year in the Dayton Mall in Dayton, Ohio. The store is operated by the Humane Society of Greater Dayton, with a goal of encouraging adoptions to as many good homes as possible.

Brian Weltge, director of the society, says he was spurred to open the mall location after noticing a shift in the way people have been adopting pets in recent years. “I noticed a trend that people were adopting more and more cats outside our [headquarters] building,” he says. “We have successful arrangements with pet supply stores and other businesses where people can adopt our cats, and last year we had maybe 300 cats adopted in our humane society building, and 1,500 at outside locations. I was looking for ways to increase that outside number even more. I wanted to add to that trend, while not necessarily relying on finding more places to provide cat adoptions.”

Instead of partnering with a dozen more local businesses for additional adoption events, Weltge started considering the benefits of an “outside” location the community could come to any day, on a more-permanent basis. The Dayton Mall gave him not only that, but also a highly visible storefront in a 1.4-million-square-foot facility.

Meowza also stocks more than 130 cat-friendly products that customers can purchase. Local resident Amy Gantt designs cat-themed greeting cards, tote bags, teapot prints, T-shirts and gardening accessories. Proceeds from sale of those products help fund the society’s spay-or-neuter and cat-adoption programs. “We knew we had to pay for rent and electricity, and the products were the way to help make that happen,” Weltge says.

As for the cats themselves, all the cats available for adoption are spayed/neutered, checked out by a vet and micro-chipped for the customer. Micro-chipping is when a very tiny computer chip is implanted in the skin. Essential information about the cat on the chip helps trace the cat if it gets lost.

With adoptions going well, Weltge says he is planning to help other humane societies open Meowza stores in their local shopping malls. “If we can provide the blueprint for this, and show the other groups how to do it, that would be very rewarding, and increase the number of cat adoptions, which is our ultimate goal,” he says.

For more information about Meowza, call the Humane Society at 937.268.PETS or visit

Dan Bennett

Dan Bennett is a Las Vegas and San Diego-based freelance business writer. He can be reached at .

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