It can be difficult to track down quality ramps or steps for elderly pets or animals with mobility issues, but a family-run Vancovuer Island business is trying to change that.
Comox valley-based Happy Bandit Pet Solutions builds handmade, pet assist stairs to help furry friends up onto beds, furniture or into cars as they age.
Corey Hobbis, his partner Christina Hillan, and his parents, Art and Susan, realized a need as their two dogs, Happy the beagle and Bandit the shih tzu, started having a more difficult time getting around. The plastic ramps they bought were expensive, flimsy and, in some cases, hazardous for the dogs.
But after both dogs died, the families decided to develop a set of stairs in honour of their beloved pets.
Art got to work, doing the research, creating the initial design and constructing the first set of miniature stairs out of solid pine to make it sturdy, but also fairly lightweight.
“We developed one set and we were like, OK, let’s put it up on Facebook and see what happens,” said Corey. He posted the first set of stairs on Facebook and they quickly began getting orders faster than they could produce them.
“I was sitting in the ferry lineup and I expected there would probably be some interest, but I was not ready for the response I got,” said Corey. “My phone battery went from 94 per cent to zero from the time I was waiting there to the time I got off the ferry.”
Corey said they started the business in August 2018 and in four months they had already sold 100 units.
For the first few months, Art and Susan took care of all of the construction, and Corey and Christina looked after sanding, sales and customer service, but more recently the family welcomed Eric Sorrell on board as a manufacturing partner to speed up building time.
What sets the stairs apart is the construction quality and size. Corey said a lot of pet stairs are set up like miniature human stairs with the steps spaced seven inches apart, but Happy Bandit stairs are much closer together at four inches for an easier walk up. Customers can choose between 10 inch-wide steps for smaller dogs or 16 inches wide for larger dogs. Five- or six-step options are also available.
A more recent addition to their product line is a ramp with two sloped steps for short-legged dogs like corgis.
Each set of stairs is collapsible for easy storage under furniture or in the back of a vehicle.
For more information and to purchase a set of pet stairs, visit their website at www.happybanditpets.com.
Happy Bandit Pet Solutions will also be at the Victoria Pet Expo from May 4-5.