A whole lot of people in Santa Fe care deeply about animals—and thankfully, a few of them also own shops. Santa Fe's many pet stores function not only as places to purchase supplies and food; they've evolved into trusted hubs of community.

Our locally owned pet supply stores have curated inventories for those concerned with quality. Most of them also have alliances or friendships with local trainers, daycares or boarding facilities, able to provide customers with referrals. All of them, it seems, have change jars on the counter with the logo of a local rescue organization or two, and periodically host adoption events. If your pet has a non-serious medical problem (hot spot? Minor digestive upset?), you can usually get some stopgap advice from a store clerk to hold you over till you can get a vet appointment.

A couple shops in particular have expanded in recent years, adding to Santa Fe's ever-growing pet friendliness.

At the start of 2015, Lisa Boegl took over Eldorado Country Pet (in the Agora Center, 7 Avenida Vista Grande, Eldorado, 466-1270), fulfilling a lifelong goal of owning a pet supply store. A little more than a year later, she moved it across the breezeway and busted out a few walls to increase its size—and exponentially increase its ability to serve her customers. Folks even come down from Santa Fe to peruse ECP's vast inventory of food, supplements and toys, not to mention stuff for wild birds if you can't have actual pets inside your house. Bird fanatic Boegl worked for Audubon for four years, and is so knowledgeable in how to lure the local avian population that your yard will be teeming in no time.

Pretty much everyone who walks in the door of ECP gets a greeting by name, and the clerks in the store always coo and fuss over any four-legged that comes in too.

"It's nice to build the relationships with your customers who are your neighbors and watch their dogs grow up," Boegl says, "or help them when they pass, or refer to them to groomers, trainers and sitters. It feels like we're part of the family. … And we're very blessed to be so."

In town, Teca Tu (DeVargas Center, 165 Paseo de Peralta, 982-9374) has also expanded in recent years. When the Sanbusco Center, where it had lived for 18 years, was sold, all shops therein were forced to find new locations in 2016. Many of them moved to the DeVargas Center. It seemed pretty inconvenient at the time, but in the end, the mass migration has both revitalized the mall and given many local shops vastly better quarters.

Teca Tu had recently soaked up more space in Sanbusco when it had to leave. What started as a sweet little boutique slinging Pendleton coats for dogs and $100 cat scratchers now also featured high-quality food, treats and supplements, making it a place for necessities as well as fun stuff. The new spot in DeVargas accommodated its expanded inventory, and then some—and added a whole wall of windows that makes the shop bright and inviting, with a door directly to outside and tables with umbrellas on a makeshift patio.

"It's been great," manager Joanne Buchanan says of the new location. "We're really happy we're over here, and we're happy that nine of the other [Sanbusco] stores came over here. It's a different atmosphere; there's a lot more traffic, and our business has really grown. We have a lot more local customers."

In addition to slinging its usual quality inventory, Teca Tu hosts regular adoption events with Felines and Friends, Lap Dog Rescue, the Greyhound Adoption League of Texas and New Mexico, and the Santa Fe Animal Shelter. Summer will also see monthly "pub hours" where customers are invited to snag special discounts, plus hors d'ouveres from the Santa Fe Bar and Grill next door. A portion of proceeds benefit animal welfare groups.

Beyond those shops that have recently expanded, Santa Fe has a healthy contingent of mainstays that have been providing for years. Check page 62 for a directory of all the best ones, from raw-food local diets to high-quality home-baked treats.

Our pet stores are more than just supply drops; they're waystations along the sometimes ridiculous journey of pet ownership where you can get friendship, advice and a bully stick or two.