Milaca residents will have a new local option for finding their favorite furry friends starting next month.

The Zany Pet Shop on Mille Lacs (175 First St. W.) officially opens May 1. The store offers a selection of small pets to purchase and supplies for keeping them.

“I absolutely love animals,” owner Amy Tihlarik said. “My whole life I’ve always wanted to be one of two things: I wanted to be a zoologist or a vet.”

The store will offer pets including hamsters, rats, chinchillas and some species of fish such as angel fish — which Tihlarik’s father breeds. Tihlarik is specializing in rarer breeds of guinea pigs including long-haired and hairless guinea pigs, she said.

Tihlarik’s love of animals started when she was young. She recalled once helping care for some wild baby bunnies her father rescued from his work, which she later released into the wild, Tihlarik said. She owns a variety of small animals herself, including six parakeets, three chihuahuas, two cats, a hamster and two hairless rats.

“I just always found joy in the small animals,” Tihlarik said. “Some people kind of see them as replaceable pets or something, but they’re just unique and I just love them.”

Tihlarik pointed out that most guinea pigs live five to seven years, possibly longer. Chinchillas can live 10-15 years, Tihlarik said.

“They form attachments to their humans just like a dog or a cat; you can even teach them to do tricks,” Tihlarik said.

There are few places you can find small animals in the area, let alone more unique species that she plans on carrying, according to Tihlarik.

“I just wanted a closer place for people to drive to get their small pets and some supplies,” Tihlarik said.

The store will be open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays. It will be closed Wednesdays and open on Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again 4-7 p.m. Hours on Saturdays are 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays are 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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