Buvette Masthead

Women at Work: Alexis Kilby-Luhrs

Molly McLaughlin

I meet Alexis Kilby-Luhrs at her business Belco Pets, and of course, we are surrounded by animals.

Jethro, a huge foster dog that Alexis adopted 13 years ago, trails behind her and pokes around the office while birds tweet in nearby cages and a cat peers through the doorway at us. This is a normal day for Alexis, who took over Belco Pets with her husband thirteen years ago. Before that Alexis had her own dog walking business but her love of animals started even earlier, when she was a child.

“My mum was a wildlife carer and she bred dogs,” Alexis says. “I was the kid at school who brought strays home and she was okay with it most of the time. Now, I have been involved with dog rescue for many years and we’ve saved about 170 dogs in the past six years.”

Alexis brings her foster dogs to work with her because, firstly, they are adorable, and secondly, she sees it as a way of educating the public about the responsibilities of being a pet owner.

“Every single foster dog we get teaches me something different,” she says. “I think that people don’t understand how much work dogs are. Its easy to get a dog but it makes me so sad to see animals that are kept in enclosures that just have no stimulation so they become really hard to handle.”

As a business, Belco Pets has had a difficult time adjusting to an influx of franchise pet stores, but Alexis prides herself on the knowledge and passion of herself and her staff.

“The hardest thing for us has been to keep fresh and keep the new ideas coming. There’s a lot of paperwork and a lot of knowledge in our industry we have to keep up with. We’re not a vet, but we like to keep the staff up to date.”

Alexis works with a rescue group, RADAR, along with Flossie’s Kitten Rescue. Recently she has been involved with the physiotherapy of two kittens with deformed front legs. Using hydrotherapy and games, Alexis and Flossie’s have been able to improve the kittens’ movement so that they can eventually be adopted. She has also raised $6000 to pay for a hip operation for Shirley, a rescue dog, and supports orangutan conservation in Borneo.

“When my husband and I went to Borneo, we were blown away by the destruction of the rainforest and those amazing animals,” she says. “We came back here and we were feeling pretty depressed about what was happening; we even thought about selling the shop and moving to Borneo. But we decided the best thing we could do was to educate people about orangutans and other animals.”

Alexis’ dream is to one day run a tree kangaroo sanctuary. “Animals are important,” she says. “For me, they’re part of the family.”

Click here to keep up to date with R.A.D.A.R. and Flossie’s Kitten Rescue.


Molly McLaughlin

Molly McLaughlin was less than thrilled to move to Canberra a couple of years ago to study Arts and Economics at ANU, but she can confirm the city has grown on her since then. Along with writing for HerCanberra, she spends her time reading, eating noodles and planning her next adventure. More about the Author

  • heber

    Love Belco pets – lovely, lovely, lovely people; wonderful service; they really know their stuff and they’re a delight.