LOVE it or hate it, Cartimar is part of the pet scene in Metro Manila.
Nestled in a far from idyllic location in the gritty part of Pasay City, Cartimar is a well-known hub for popular breeds of dogs and cats and species of birds and aquarium fishes. The place screams of puppy mills and irreverent vendors. It's easy to ignore the stench in the air, but not the unhappy gaze of many pets for sale. Something is seriously wrong, but Cartimar doesn't even hide or lie about it. It's an ugly place feeding on what is beautiful. Cartimar: take it or leave it.
The Cartimar Shopping Centre is along Taft Avenue at the end of Buendia Avenue. The name has a 1970s vibe to it as it was in that era when it became the source of PX goods and imported items not easily accessible to the public. The place has definitely seen better days and now caters to a different market: pet lovers.
A quick visit at Cartimar reveals pet shops that don't even attempt to look nice, except maybe for two stores that installed air-conditioners in their kennel areas. The rest of the stores are just downright shabby to the detriment of the animals in equally filthy cages.
When at Cartimar, one must try hard to see both the good and the bad. The good part is, if you are looking for a Chow Chow, Siberian Husky or a Pomeranian, for example, Cartimar delivers them to you by the dozens. The popular breeds fill the cages, but there's no chance to find a Bernese Mountain Dog or St. Bernard everyday. If you are not interested in the shop owners' humane practices and ethical standards and would be simply happy to pay for the pet of your dreams, then Cartimar is an easy street to fulfill your need.
However, Cartimar would be bad for you if the sight of bored, listless animals confined in small spaces – some thin and sickly – would upset you to no end. The trip would feel like a rescue mission after you've paid a ransom.
In Cartimar, the price of two puppies that look the same could vary from one store to the next. The same with pet supplies and accessories. It's important to inquire about pets and accessories in different stores—and try to curb your enthusiasm. Your haggling rights are dead if you show undeniable fondness to a googly eyed puppy in front of the vendor. In fact, it would help to name a breed that you know the overzealous vendors don't have just to project that you are not really into their dogs.
If you must buy a dog at Cartimar, be very wise. Take everything that the seller is saying with a grain of salt. If you are not familiar with canines, take someone who knows them better than you. Do not fall for the vendors' exaltation of their pets' qualities, but do point out the “warts” you see. Tell them straight if you find a puppy thin, or that he has ticks or is sickly. Don't spare the vendors' feelings because Cartimar petshop owners are ready to wave off your statements on the fly. At the very least, they'd know you are not gullible.
Cartimar is a place that is easy to hate, but once you are there the urge is strong to walk up to the pet stores and have a look. One need not buy and could leave anytime. It's not the animals' fault how they were brought to this world and ended up in Cartimar. Out there are seriously fine dogs and cats. But with the stench, heat and some pets in undesirable state around you, searching for your next pet at Cartimar could be like finding diamonds in the rough.