Rhinelander pet supply company to close, 289 jobs lost

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RHINELANDER, Wis. (WSAW) Drs. Foster and Smith in Rhinelander is closing in February and 289 people will lose their jobs.

Parent company Petco announced Wednesday that it will permanently close all operations in Rhinelander, except for its 'Live Aquaria' business. Drs. Foster and Smith is America's largest catalog and online seller of pet supplies.

Petco cited a need to streamline its operation and better focus on its core business and customer.

Drs. Foster and Smith will close on Feb. 12. The last days of employment for the 289 employees will vary over the next 60 to 120 days.

Petco aquired Drs. Foster and Smith in Feb. 2015. 55 jobs were eliminated in Jan. 2018 when Petco decided to move front office operations from Rhinelander to the corporation's national support center in San Diego, CA. 17 more pharmacist jobs were eliminated in Aug. 2018 when Petco relocated its pharmacy operations.

Full statement from Petco:

"Petco today announced that we have made the difficult but necessary decision to close the Drs. Foster and Smith (DFS) business based in Rhinelander, Wis., on February 12, 2019. Taking into account the needs of modern pet parents, shifting consumer preferences and the ongoing evolution of the Petco brand, we believe this will enable us to streamline operations and better focus on our core business and customer. This change affects 289 employees, with their last days of employment varying over the next 60 to 120 days - all have been notified and will be provided severance and transition support. This decision has not been an easy one, nor has it been made lightly, and we appreciate that it has a very real effect on both individuals and the broader community in Rhinelander. In an effort to help, we’re committed to working with local officials to provide ample outplacement programming for those impacted starting in February. We greatly appreciate all of our partners for their dedicated service and contributions to Drs. Foster and Smith and to Petco."

Drs. Foster and Smith was founded in 1983. Dr. Race Foster, Dr. Rory Foster and Dr. Marty Smith's Animal hospitals in Northern Wisconsin were the first in the nation to offer free rabies vaccinations and free spay/neutering services.