For the last few years, the staff at the IKEA store in Catania, Italy, have done more than open its doors to customers: They had also opened the store to homeless dogs in and around town. Allowing the dogs to not only come in but stay in the store has helped them stay warm, healthy and well-fed while scoring big points with IKEA's fan base around the world.
When Martine Taccia went shopping at IKEA this past fall, she was surprised to see the stray dogs napping on rugs within the furniture displays. "My reaction was pure amazement," Taccia said. "It's not a common thing." It may not be common, but it is heartwarming for staff and customers alike.
This IKEA store decided to open up to local stray dogs to shelter them from the elements. The relationship between store staff and stray dogs, however, has evolved into something much more profound and loving.
"The dogs receive daily food and pampering from IKEA's employees and customers," Taccia noted. "Some dogs have even found a family, going home with customers." So these dogs not only receive shelter but also some of them find a forever home in the bargain.
The Catania IKEA branch does not openly advertise its stray pooch policy, but customers are smitten by the gesture and by the time they get to spend around the dogs.
"I felt a feeling of deep tenderness and great happiness in seeing dogs crouched in the exhibition space at the entrance of the IKEA," said customer Beppe Liotta. Many other customers feel the same way as evidenced by the numerous Instagram photos of these IKEA dogs.
Liotta hopes other stores will make the same generous move that this IKEA store did. "If all the stores that had the space would make a place of refuge for strays, I would be really happy," he said. Many other customers would be as well.
Stop by this IKEA store should you visit this part of Italy, or check in on your favorite store dogs via the #ikeacatania hashtag on Instagram. Hopefully, other stores will follow IKEA Catania's lead and bring more animals off the streets and into people's hearts.