It was the 2016 Christchurch earthquake of magnitude 7.8 that inspired the idea of creating an emergency kit to enable people to keep pets with them during a disaster. Jamie Mills-Hartley and Aaron Hartley (7point8) are a husband-and-wife team that recently launched their first product; Emergency catch and go kits for small household pets such as cats, rabbits and small dogs. They worked with Thrive Whanganui Impact Coach Petrina Clark to complete their business plan.
The idea for the turnkey came as they secured their farm slides during the earthquake and their eldest daughter took their young child out of the way in the middle of the bed with snacks, games, and coloring in books. Then they had the problem of trying to find their cats that got away during the tremor and realized how distraught their children would be if they had to evacuate without their pets. After the earthquake and during the aftershocks, Jaime continued working on these concepts with her friend Stacey Foskett. Each decided to create different markets for their separate business with Stacy focusing on keeping children safe and occupied in a disaster (Ready Bear) while Jaime and Aaron created 7point8 to focus on animal care and keeping pets safe with their owners during an emergency.
‘We were a little surprised when someone bought a set for a large German Shepherd,’ said 7point8, ‘but the customer added food and water and now he has everything in place for his pet if he needs to go fast. It is useful not only in case of disasters but for vacations, travel and last minute plans as well. The bags are airline approved and easy to use with zippers on the sides as well as on top which is especially useful for cats. With a larger animal in the event of an emergency it’s a good idea to still have a group ready, they can have the option of staying in your car but have all the supplies close at hand. Your animal must be housed in a care center, animals cannot be on the loose. Pets are a huge part of an emergency rescue operation, putting pressure on animal shelters, batteries, and pounds. During the 2015 floods in Whanganui, the police would come in and rescue the dogs off the kitchen tables, the cats were a bit more self-sufficient, but it’s really sad that the owners don’t know where they are. “In our experience with disasters, it is the physical and psychological effects that seem to persist and affect people the most,” Aaron says. Jaime agrees, “For some people, their pets are like their children and it’s a huge relief to be able to keep them together in case of an emergency.” 7point8 emphasizes that owning a pet hunting kit is just one part of the family’s plan and they hope to engage the public in thinking about disaster preparedness in general. One opportunity to develop a plan is through the New Zealand ShakeOut, our national Hukou earthquake and tsunami drill, which will take place on Thursday 27 October 2022 at 9:30 AM.
The business planning process with Thrive confirmed that 7point8 is a viable business and has allowed the couple to look at the big picture. When asked about coach Petrina Clark’s influence in working with him they both laughed “It was unforgettable when Pep went and borrowed someone’s dog from the street to shoot our product. Pep deserves a raise, it’s been great. Jaime previously volunteered for the Red Cross and is currently working in education as a teacher’s assistant. Aaron has a background in the Defense Force and has worked as a rural firefighter for the past 14 years. The advice from 7point8 to those who are considering starting their own business is to know it is difficult but not to give up and to seek help when you need it.
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