BY JENNIFER HIGGINS
You would be hard pressed to debate that pet owners will go to great lengths, and expense, to ensure the health and well-being—both physical and mental—of their beloved four-legged, furry family members. Whether obtained from a breeder, a friend or a rescue, privately owned pets often find themselves enjoying similar, if not the same, comforts that their owners do. When pet owners need a vacation, they tend to want their canine—and, to a lesser degree, feline and avian—companions enjoying a similar type of getaway. The same often goes for pets whose single owners work long hours away from home or take lengthy business trips.
Nobody knows the growing trends, in’s and out’s, and success of these facilities better than Carmen Rustenbeck, founder and CEO of the International Boarding and Pet Services Association (IBPSA) and recipient of Pet Age’s 2018 Women of Influence Award. IBPSA is a professional association that provides business resources, industry expertise, staff education and training, certifications, and legislative support for the pet care and services industry. Rustenbeck says she is “honored to have received the Pet Age 2018 Women of Influence Award and [to be] in such a great company of women.”
With her thumb on the pulse of the pet services industry, Rustenbeck was able to recommend a few of what she deems to be the top daycare and pet services facilities in the country.
Privately owned by John and Stacey Sturgess, ADOGO is a daycare and spa facility that also offers boarding/overnight stays. The amenities include centralized cleaning systems, webcams, water fountains and K9 Grass turf as well as specialized fencing and floors.
“ADOGO is focused on the experience and safety of our customers,” Sturgess said.
Pets that spend the night at ADOGO stay in custom designed suites (designed and installed by Mason Company). Each suite is equipped with its own feeding system and pet locker as well as holder for the pet’s picture and important instructions and/or documents. The perk for an overnight guest at ADOGO is being able to attend daycare in play rooms that are divided according to dog size and temperament, reducing the potential for conflict and/or stress.
People send their kids to camp in the summer, so why not send your dog to camp as well? Boasting its status as a $100+ million-dollar brand, Camp Bow Wow rivals the competition with its ubiquity and promise of fun, safety and service.
“Dogs romp together in an open-play environment. In addition to day care and boarding, many Camp Bow Wow locations also offer in-home pet care, grooming and reward-based dog training programs,” Camp Bow Wow’s VP of Operations Laurie Windler said.
There are several services that differentiate Camp Bow Wow from other facilities like it. Pet parents can access a mobile app to watch Camper Cams and request reservations on the go; their Camp Counselors are certified in pet first aid and CPR; the pricing is all-inclusive; and dogs are able to play all day.
Owned and operated by Angela Pickren and her business partner, Kendall Duncan, Canine Cabana has defined its mission, “to provide a safe, active and healthy recreational environment that meets canine physical and behavioral needs, while improving the quality of life for both dogs and the owners who love them.” The company offers two different levels of daycare—boarding, grooming and training—all services offered by many other, similar facilities. However, Canine Cabana has taken a couple of its services to the next level, setting its facility apart from the competition and paving the way for future pet care industry improvements. For starters, Pickren and Duncan felt that the “normal” daycare playtime regimen just wasn’t meeting the needs of all the dogs. To address this shortcoming, they developed Daycare 2.0 which is a “higher level of daycare, called enrichment.”
“Although we have traditionally offered daycare for dogs not participating in group playtimes, we saw a significant increase in the need for an alternative daycare program,” Pickren said. “Some dogs at Canine Cabana need more personalized attention, enhanced mental stimulation along with physical exercise. We have a rotation of daily events: red rover, hide and seek, relay races, spa days, football, etc.”
Canine Cabana also takes its training services seriously and makes sure its training and other staff are educated in the services they provide.
Next is Dogtopia, whose primary focus points are safety, industry expertise, education and involvement in the community. Dogtopia provides daycare, boarding, and spa services as well as grooming and training in some locations.
“With an emphasis on education, exercise and socialization for dogs, pet parents have the assurance of leaving their beloved furry family members in the hands of trained professionals, in an environment created with safety in mind,” said Neil Gill, CEO and president of Dogtopia.
One such safety-conscious item is Dogtopia Eliminator. Used in the facility itself and offered for purchase by pet owners, this product safely eliminates odors inside and outside of the home but does not pose a health threat to pets. Frosty Paws and Bacon Bubbles are also used as treats for Dogtopia animal guests, and homemade Protein Bowls offer proper nutrition. Dogtopia sets itself apart from the competition by providing dogs and their owners with the best experience by reducing odors, noise level and illness. With multiple playrooms based on dog size, Dogtopia facilities are equipped with live webcams for pet parents to see their pet in action throughout the day. Compressed rubber flooring protects joints and prevents slipping, ensuring safer play. Most impressive and inspiring about Dogtopia, however, is its involvement in the community, striving to make an impact on people’s lives. They do this through The Dogtopia Foundation which, “funds programs focused on three worthy causes: Dogs for Veterans, Youth Literacy Programs and Employment initiatives for Adults with Autism.”
Another recommendation by Rustenbeck was Raintree Pet Resort and Medical Center. Owned and operated by Homer Savard, Raintree is one of the first facilities in Arizona to offer doggie daycare services. Raintree also offers boarding for dogs, cats and even exotic pets. Though its grooming is limited to bath and brush services, there are a few things that set Raintree Pet Resort apart from the competition. At the top of that list is its full service, AAHA accredited medical center that resides within the facility and gives pet owners the peace of mind that, should their pet become ill or injured, veterinary care can be provided immediately. Other amenities that rival the competition include a 350-gallon salt water aquarium to entertain the cats; play yards equipped with a swimming pool and splash pad; and—an extra-exciting feature—seven tons of real snow, brought in a couple of times a year, in which the dogs can play. Some of the products offered at Raintree include KONG toys, Purina Frosty Paws frozen treats, and homemade Pupcakes. Raintree designed its own signature cat condos and double decker kennel system, both built by Mason Company in Leesburg, Ohio.