Animal Exchange (301) 424-PETS  
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Store Hours:
Mon., Thurs 10-8
Wed., Fri., Sat 10-6
Sun 11-3
Closed Tuesdays

(301) 424-7387

March 7, 2015


Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:17 pm

Will the snow ever be gone? Well the birds think Spring is coming and that is because the day length is increasing. Even though it was 12 degrees on my front porch this morning, I could hear the Spring songs of the song sparrow and the cardinal. While our pet birds are inside, if there is a window they know too. We have had eggs appear in the finch cage and even parakeet although there is no nest in sight.

Easter is coming but we do not sell Easter Bunnies. When we have a bunny go home with you it is an 8-12 year commitment to a great companion animal, a year round rabbit. The bunnies here now are from a Lionhead breeder so they are fluffier than most. Ask us to take one out when you are here.

March 14, 2015 is the real Pi Day  3.1415…… If you are reading this before then, join us for a night of comedy with Tim Lee, a PhD ecologist from California who is performing at F Scott Fitzgerald theater here in Rockville. If you can’t be here, you can still enjoy some of his hilarious interpretations of science by seeing his videos on you Tube.

The next Rockville Science Cafe which is normally on the 3rd Tuesday of the month has been moved to March 24 rather than compete with a live band at Branded ’72 on St Patricks Day. Dr Valentina Aquila will be speaking about how Volcanoes are effecting Climate.  April’s Cafe will be on April 21 and features Dr Linda Rayor from Cornell University who will lead a discussion on Spiders. Join us for these FREE Cafes. The store can tell you what’s up next for each month.

January 28, 2015

Vote NO on Bill 5014

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:21 am

Montgomery County is deciding on a Bill that would eliminate ones choices in how they acquire a companion dog or cat. Here is my testimony:

Chairman Leventhal and distinguished members of the Montgomery County Council:

My name is Ruth Hanessian. I reside at 303 Highland Ave in Rockville and operate a retail pet store at 605 Hungerford Drive where for the last 35 years we have provided locally raised companion animals.

I am opposed to Bill 5014.

Montgomery County deserves choices. We are a county filled with intelligent animal lovers. We have always encouraged adoption of dogs from shelters and if you cannot find an animal there, many of our customers went to Potomac Kennels or other retail sources where various breeds of puppies were offered and comparisons could be made. If legitimate retail options, which are licensed, inspected, and collect sales tax, are eliminated, citizens wanting a puppy will increasingly move to unregulated sources (backyard breeders, unidentified lineage (shelters), and older animals with uncertain history (rescues). While these all have many potentially successful dogs, they are not right for everyone.

A “NO PETS ALLOWED” 6th floor apartment in the Bronx meant a very late start for this pet lover when dogs were concerned, but let me share my dogs with you:

My first dog, when I was 23, came from a “rescue”—a home with dogs and cats in every corner & on every surface. “Hoarder” would have been a better description of the lady. I was thrilled to have “saved” Cinder when in reality I simply condemned more animals to a life of misery. Cinder came with tapeworms, among other things.

Skipper, my Yorkie, belonged to a neighbor and when she gave him to me at one year it became clear he was not house broken! He came from the same model house as mine. With the same corners to pee on, one year of house breaking followed!

Jodi, a beautiful Irish Setter came from the Montgomery County Humane Society. When she joined the family we had a large fenced yard in Gaithersburg. With a divorce impending, a fenced yard in Rockville with a very tiny house with unusually low ceilings was my only option for a new home for the two of us.

Foxie was the best! A Poodle, Chihuahua, Terrier, he was the first puppy I ever had. He and his litter mates were offered to me for sale by a Potomac lady who had been surprised by their arrival. Jodi had recently died of bloat so while I did not sell puppies, they came by the store on the way to the Montgomery County Animal Shelter and Foxie stayed with me for 15 wonderful years. He was my first puppy albeit probably not yet eight weeks old.

Because of all the dogs that visited my store while they were shopping, many breeds proved unappealing to me but a Schipperke was fascinating. My vet gave me the name of a local breeder but visiting her house did not impress me. So I talked to an excellent puppy store that many of my customers did business with—Potomac Kennels. Sueanne called me when she had a Schipperke puppy come in and Spot, the most beautiful black bundle of energy, came to live with me. A minor medical issue was handled by Potomac Kennels and Spot’s AKC paperwork arrived as promised.

So one of my four dogs benefitted the County with sales tax, three did not! One supported a family owned small business of excellence because by the time Spot came to live with me, my small business was providing enough income for me to pay up front for the dog that in the long run cost me the least.

Too many animals today are being purchased on the internet from distant sources that have great web pages. My experience has been that a visit to these locations confirms it is not what it appeared to be. My College classmate was entranced by one Cockapoo breeder until she visited. Her puppy ultimately came from Virginia, two hours south of here.

Shelters are actually importing (300,000 one year) puppies from Taiwan, Puerto Rico, and recently a group destined for the meat market in Korea. It’s hard to believe these are appropriate sources for families with expectations on size and behavior for their new family member.

Montgomery County euthanizes very few adoptable animals. About 25 years ago I reviewed all 12,000 animals passing through the shelter in one year. There were less than 150 dogs that were euthanized that year that might possibly have been adoptable. The last time I checked figures, we were DOWN to 7,000 a year.

Today Potomac Kennels is gone, victim to the high cost of doing business in Montgomery County and the huge amount of effort necessary to operate a facility with live animals properly. Let me also point out that a retail store PAYS for their inventory and then has the same expenses for veterinary care as anyone with live animals. Our veterinary relationship and our business are crucial for the wellbeing of our pets. Sueanne’s vet checked each one of the puppies she purchased from Legal Commercial Breeding Facilities that were also licensed, inspected, and had their own veterinary relationships prior to providing puppies after eight weeks of age—the legal age for sale here. Many were the nights she was not home with her three daughters because puppies were arriving. Thank goodness for her outstanding and supportive husband!

Bill 5014 is an example of legislation that sounds kind and helpful while the result will be to decrease responsible choosing of what everyone wants to be a successful family experience for both pet and people.

Please vote NO on Bill 5014.

December 27, 2014


Filed under: Seasonal,Store News,Uncategorized — admin @ 11:40 am


—Help even more of you become successful Bird Breeders.

—Provide the best food, supplies and advice so all your pets live a long and wonderful life.

—Continue to respect your time by opening ( and closing ) on time.

—Expand the videos on the YouTube Animal Exchange channel. What would you like us to do?

—Succeed in explaining to bird owners why wing feather trimming is so important before their pet bird flies off or hurts itself. See our video for how to or make an appointment for us to trim.

—Share your life ( and food) with a great companion,  but no chocolate for dogs, no avocado for bird, and common sense with amounts. My Parrot let loves chicken.

—Enjoy all  Companion Animals  and the people who love and care for them.

November 24, 2014

Holidays Are Here

Filed under: Seasonal,Store News,Uncategorized — admin @ 11:43 am

With Thanksgiving upon us this week, I want to thank you for your love of animals. The comments of our customers constantly remind us that pets are truly a blessing and we have been instrumental in assuring that the equipment and care they have leads to a long and successful life.

Holidays are the time to share the bounty with your animals. The small animals are thrilled with a handful of fresh Oxbow Hay every day. We work hard to always have the biggest and best Spray Millet for the birds but any Hamster would also love it. Whole Life Freeze Dried Treats are American Made with the highest quality meats available. In addition to being good, they are simple to crumble so you get multiple rewards from each piece. Ask us for help with any pets  and take advantage of our 35 years experience.


September 1, 2014

Have You Seen Martha?

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:58 am

September 1, 2014 marks the 100th Anniversary of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. Martha died in the Cincinnati Zoo on that day in 1914–you can visit her, stuffed, in Washington DC at the Smithsonian. Do visit her if you have not seen this remnant of a huge population of American birds whose flocks were so great they darkened the sky. Think how diminished our world will be as we lose more and more species. Martha was alive when my mother was born, the Ivory Billed Woodpecker was alive when I was born but my children have never seen either one. They are gone. Who next?

In 1980, purpose #1 in the Articles of Incorporation for Animal Exchange includes “education, research, and management to further the captive propagation of various animals, especially birds and endangered species.”

The birds and small animals bought and sold at animal Exchange today are, with few exceptions, both captive bred and locally raised so have we succeeded? Maybe, but each of us still need to do more to insure we leave the world a better place.

July 28, 2014

35 Years…

Please forgive me if I reminisce about the last 35 years of Animal Exchange in Rockville, Maryland…

In 1979, I had been working for three years at Gaithersburg Pet Center (GPS), originally part time to distract myself from my father’s battle with cancer. When it became apparent that I could do a better and more honest job on my own, I offered to purchase GPC for $35,000, but was turned down by the owner who subsequently sold it for ¼ million. I began searching for my own space, not realizing that many landlords, including Giant, would not lease to a pet store! Finally a realtor got me a space of 1500 sq ft in the back of the Ritchie Center. The managing partner had recently absconded leaving 2 investors on their own. Fortunately they did not know to ask for a business plan or even a financial statement, neither of which I had or understood.

The initial check for rent was written and before it was even cashed, I secured 424-Pets as the phone number with the phone company and then went looking for money. It turned out that a wife was not a financial entity and even with securities in hand, no loans were offered. My Mother was 76 at this point but agreed to lend me enough to open the doors, and we did on August 5, 1979!

Much of the building, painting, and display were done by my son Daniel, 14 at the time, and me. We hung pegboard from the ceiling, designed and built the small animal racks that are still in use today, and stocked the shelves with the help of owners of four other pet stores. The Fire Marshall wanted us to use fire proof peg board (non-existent) and install sprinklers until we pointed out that neither was required for our space. The City of Rockville assured us there was no Pet Shop License (two years later they realized their mistake) and we ordered our Psittacine Permit from the State (later changed to include all birds). After $27,000 the store opened fully stocked with birds, small animals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.

Using my Mother’s retirement money made me very nervous so I repaid that during the first year instead of paying myself. By year three, when the adjacent store became available, we doubled our size and gave the groomer a separate section. Salt water tanks were becoming readily available so Mother and I signed up for a Marine Biology course Cornell offered in St. Croix and expanded from fresh water fish into salt water.

Seeing the salt water fish in their own world was so inspirational that in 1985 Mother and I took off to see our Australian bird species in their country. What a fabulous experience! New Zealand had the most amazing collection of birds owned by a private individual and many private collections of finches and parakeets. And yes, we did see even more salt water fish!

The first local organization we joined was the Rockville Chamber of Commerce. As Legislative Vice President, I had been addressing animal related legislation and also local issues such as sign regulations. In a 1989 Chamber meeting, I learned the Budweiser Clydesdales would be in town for the Hometown Holidays parade on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. They were available Friday afternoon so I rounded up Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish clerics for a 4:30pm Blessing of the Animals at the store. Wow, what a way to celebrate my 50th Birthday! We’ve done blessings ever since.

Here are the Budweiser Clydesdales at Animal Exchange's 1st Blessing of the Animals.

The next few years, as Mother went through her 90’s, we learned about fractured hips as she recovered from hers and began walking again. When she hit 98 years old, I could not continue with seven days a week at the store. Mother needed attention.

Packing up 3000 sq ft after 22 years to squeeze into 1800 sq ft was not only a logistical nightmare but very costly.  We discontinued fish, reptiles and amphibians, and a lot of dog, choosing to specialize even more in birds and small animals and so we have for 13 years.

Small business is tough. The only business harder than Pet is Restaurant. We’ve had extraordinary good luck and support from a clientele of honest, altruistic, and very intelligent people. Our goal of selling only locally raised animals is here with every bird, from our Umbrella Cockatoo, to all the parakeets bred by customers. The mice and hamsters are bred with focus on behavior and genetics. We never have animals that we do not love and appreciate the great homes they go to. Okay, so it was really hard to have our Hyacinth Macaw Andy go to a new home after 22 years, not to mention Buttons, the Sulfur Crested Cockatoo that was ours for 28 years.

So as we celebrate 35 wonderful years, we give thanks for all the amazing animals that have passed through our hands and all of you who love pets too!


June 28, 2014

Photo Contest! And We’re 35!

Filed under: Seasonal,Store News,Uncategorized — admin @ 9:41 am

It’s that time again and customers are bringing in amazing pictures of their pets. We  don’t often see our clients, just their staff ( that’s you…”) and so the photos are a real treat for us. Prizes will be awarded at our 35th birthday party at the store on August 3, 2014  at 1 PM. Do join us for an afternoon of refreshments and reminiscing  on what has happened here with the most wonderful People and Pets, for 35 years. And as always, thank you for caring about animals as much as we do.

June 2, 2014

Treats for your Pet Bird

Filed under: Bird Care,Store News,Uncategorized — admin @ 3:13 pm

“My birds always lay eggs because of your food.”

What greater compliment could we get? What you feed your pets determines how well they do. Reproduction does not happen on a poor diet. Here are some of our considerations with food choices:

-Clean fresh seeds for birds with just natural color. Have you ever noticed that the artificially colored seeds or pellets result in unusually colored droppings?

-Variety! There are over 10 bins of foods that your parrot can try. Because birds depend so much on vision, changing the appearance in their food bowl is a very good idea. Our suppliers sometimes have shortages of various ingredients and leave us without a particular mix and we too have to shift to a substitute. It sure helps if they have seen it before.

-Natural treats. Today all the birds got red and yellow peppers and cucumber. Yesterday was corn and kale. Bok Choi is a favorite. As soon as the bird at my house hears me cooking eggs, he is stomping his little feet demanding I put a ladder up to the table so he can get his share. Most pet birds love to share your plate and he will try most anything when we are eating together.

March 29, 2014

Science Day April 6, 2014

Filed under: Seasonal,Store News,Uncategorized — admin @ 10:43 am

Rockville Maryland has celebrated Science with a day of exhibits for 25 years and this year is going to be the best. 94 exhibits on the Montgomery College Campus, a Friday April 4 theater show on famous women in stem and a memorial grocery bag from Animal Exchange are all part of this exciting weekend. Call the store at 301-424-PETS if you need more information.

March 4, 2014

Rockville Happenings

Filed under: Classes,Science Cafes,Seasonal,Store News,Uncategorized — admin @ 1:45 pm

Rockville first hosted Science Day 25 years ago so this year is special. Science Day will be as always, at Montgomery College on Sunday from 12-5 this year on April 6. It’s FREE and over 70 exhibits will greet you with hands on experiences from Homing Pigeons to Rockets.

FRIDAY APRIL 4 will be even more special because the Robert E Parilla Performing Arts Center will feature ” Forging Frontiers – Women Leaders in STEM “. The reenact ion by Kate Campbell Stevenson will have you believing you are in the room with Rachel Carson and other famous women scientists. Montgomery College is sponsoring this performance with the Rockville Science Center and that means that every STUDENT that attends will get in FREE. Be there at 7 PM  even if you have to buy a $10.00 ticket which is available at Animal Exchange. Bringing a group of students? Please call Ruth at 301-674-7884 for more information.

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