Those looking to bring a puppy, rabbit or even a tarantula into their family this Christmas won’t need to go farther than downtown Dover to find a furry friend. The Wild Side Exotic Pets opened a month ago on West Loockerman Street and has since been providing the city with its pet needs.


Those looking to bring a puppy, rabbit or even a tarantula into their family this Christmas won’t need to go farther than downtown Dover to find a furry friend. The Wild Side Exotic Pets opened a month ago on West Loockerman Street and has since been providing the city with its pet needs.

Business partners Suzanne Cauley, Abe Patz, Leticia Hollinger and Richmond Wright III made the decision to open a pet shop in Dover because they saw a need in the community.

“I had already been raising birds in my home,” Cauley said. “I didn’t like the other pet stores in the area and figured we could do it better, and we have been.”

Inside the corner shop, children can be found looking for the sugar gliders tucked away in their cages or watching fish swim in the coy pond.

Patz said the owners’ first priority is to keep the shop spic and span at all times.

“Our goal is to be 100 percent clean,” he said.

To help, several family members, including a handful of their children, volunteer daily.

“It’s a family business,” Patz said. “My hope is that I’ll be able to retire in 10 years and have the kids run the business. This is our legacy for them.”

Cauley said she, however, has no plans to retire.

The shop currently carries approximately 60 animals, ranging from rabbits, dragons, birds, chinchillas, guinea pigs and puppies.

Cauley said the store usually houses four or five puppies at a time, which are provided through a USDA-certified kennel in Kansas.

While the store does not sell cats or kittens, the owners have partnered with the Kent County SPCA to help the nonprofit house a few felines available for adoption. The SPCA has plans to provide rabies clinics and special training programs at the store in the future.

In addition, Wild Side has plans to work with the Dover Public Library to hold a pet care seminar for kids.

“We’re constantly trying to work with the community,” Cauley said.

Aside from animals, patrons can also find food, cleaning products, training aids and toys at Wild Side.

Patz said he and his fellow business partners have already received positive feedback from the community.

“They’re astounded by how clean the store is, how nice the kids are to work with and how friendly the birds are,” he said.