Emily ProffittSeptember 27th, 2007
At Jeanne Kelps pet-care facility here, day-care has gone to the dogs, and thats not a bad thing.
Canines and cats sit in the lap of luxury at Jeannes Doggie Daycare & Pet Hotel LLC, where they stay overnight in suites furnished with Simmons orthopedic mattresses and framed beds, bone-shaped rugs, and cable TVs tuned to the Animal Planet channel. If their parents are willing to pay a little extra, they also can enjoy perks such as grooming, massages, birthday parties, and even some quality cuddle time.
While such lavish treatment might seem extravagant to some, pet-care servicespart of a $41 billion pet industrynow represent the second fastest-growing category in retail sales, according to Greenwich, Conn.-based American Pet Products Manufacturers Association Inc. About 63 percent of U.S. households, or 71 million homes, now own at least one pet, APPMAs Web site says.
Kelp says increasing numbers of those pet owners spare no expense on their furry companions. Demand at her day-care center and hotel has grown to the point that shes opening a second facility, in Spokane Valley next month.
People are having dogs instead of children now, she says. They dont want to leave them at home all day while theyre at work or out of town. The dogs here get tired and play and make friends, so theyre happier at home.
Kelp, a self-proclaimed animal lover, says she started the business four years ago because she wanted a place where she would feel comfortable keeping her own dogs. She and her husband, Lonny, owned a janitorial business at the time, and she had started raising and reselling puppies she had handpicked from across the U.S. When she searched Spokane for a kennel for the dogs, she says she couldnt find a facility that met her demands.
She said, I would never put my dogs in a kennel, but I would put them in a hotel, Lonny Kelp says. I thought my wife had lost it.
In September 2003, Kelp started the company in a 5,500-square-foot leased building, at 3311 E. Ferry. The business outgrew that space quickly, though, so in July of 2006 it moved to its current location in a 26,000-square-foot leased building at 724 N. Madelia.
The facility includes a 4,300-square-foot indoor space for large dogs, where they play and spend their designated nap time each day, attached to leashes that line the walls. It has an 8,800-square-foot outdoor space for large dogs as well, Kelp says. For small dogs, theres a 1,250-square-foot indoor area and a similarly-sized covered outdoor space.
The facility also has a cat day-care area and six cat suites, which include toys, blankets, a bed, and scratching-climbing posts, Kelp says.
The facility takes care of an average of about 100 large dogs and 35 small dogs each day, she says. The company charges $20 per day per dog for full-day day-care, $22 per night for suite stays for dogs, and $16 per night for cat-suite stays.
For boarding dogs, the company offers 30 regular suites and six master suites, she says. Each regular suite has a glass door, framed bed, TV, and rug, and the master suites have an additional bed, full-sized rocking chair, and toy chest. Services include bedtime treats, room service, and housekeeping.
Most dogs live indoors and are used to the sound of a TV, so having TVs in their suites is relaxing for them, Kelp says. TVs also provide background noise so that dogs dont hear other noises in the suite area and start barking.
Kelp says the boarding rooms are usually fully occupied, and that customers currently are reserving spots for rooms during holidays next year.
Doggie Daycare has a small, purple-colored school bus that it uses to transport pets to and from home, veterinarian visits, and grooming appointments, though theres a fee for transporting animals. In addition, it offers day-care and boarding services for rodents and birds.
The company employs 10 people, including the Kelps, she says. She declines to disclose its annual revenues.
Next month, Kelp plans to open a second day-care and pet hotel in a 13,500-square-foot leased building, at 17809 E. Appleway, in Spokane Valley. The suites there will be even more posh than the ones at the first pet hotel, she says. They will be built to look like small houses, and each suite will include a plasma TV. The indoor play area will be landscaped to look like the outdoors, she says.
Kelp likely will hire eight employees to work at the new facility.SocializingJeannes Doggie Daycare & Pet Hotel wouldnt be able to accommodate as many dogs if the dogs werent socialized into the pack, she says. Lonny Kelp, who says he grew up on a farm with plenty of dogs, uses a technique called dog socialization to get them to behave and get along with the rest of the dogs at the day care.
Basically, dog socialization involves establishing dominance over the dog so that it knows Kelp is the alpha male of the group, he says. When an owner allows their dog to be the boss, that dog will misbehave and sometimes act aggressively toward others, he says.
Kelp says he has socialized more than 3,000 dogs and has saved at least 20 dogs from being euthanized by using socialization techniques to tame them. Kelp offers at-home socialization services for an additional fee.
Its really nice to be able to help people who were going to put their dog to sleep or get rid of them, he says. Theyre so happy when they realize they dont have to.
Jeannes Doggie Daycare & Pet Hotel doesnt accept pit bulls, because they are the only types of dogs that have a truly killer instinct, he contends.
While pit bulls can be socialized, its a much more dangerous endeavor because of their potential aggressiveness and because many of their owners make them more unstable by antagonizing them, he says. The facility accepts some pit bull mixes, though.
As demand grows, Jeanne Kelp hopes to build a new facility in Spokane to replace the leased space on Madelia Street, and open a pet day-care and hotel in the Seattle area. Several of her customers are from the West Side and drop their pets off when theyre visiting or working in Spokane. Some customers from out-of-town even fly their pets here when they go on vacation, she says.
Contact Emily Proffitt at (509) 344-1265 or via e-mail at email@example.com.