Local vets offering doggy day care
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent September 30, 2012 12:02AM
Kennel Manager Josette Villegas plays with some of the dogs who spend the day at the Four Seasons Animal Hospital in Winfield as part of the pet daycare progam Thursday Sept. 27, 2012. Clien| Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 1, 2012 6:38AM
Moppet and Ozzie are regulars at Four Seasons Animal Hospital in Winfield.
Moppet, a Yorkie, can usually be found resting comfortably in a bed at the feet of a receptionist, occasionally getting up to check out any new people who might stop by. Ozzie, a Maltese mix, on the other hand, likes to run and play with other dogs in a back room as a staff member looks on.
Both dogs are part of a growing trend — they’re enrolled in pet day care.
“In big cities you’ll find pet day care centers on every block,” said Glenn Major, veterinarian and owner of Four Seasons Animal Hospital.
In Northwest Indiana, it isn’t quite that common, but it is catching on, with several animal clinics and other businesses offering day care services for both dogs and cats in Lake and Porter counties.
According to the 2011-12 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, Americans were expected to spend a total of $4.11 billion on grooming and boarding their animals in 2012, up from $3.79 billion spent in 2011. The survey also found that the average pet owner spent $274 a year to board their dogs compared to $166 to board their cats.
Major said he’s been offering the service for years as a convenience for clients, but he didn’t call it day care. It was half-day boarding. He recently decided to start advertising the service.
Both Major and others who offer the service say people want it for a variety of reasons.
Debbie Labadie, of Crown Point, said she started bringing Ozzie more than four years ago, when he was 8 months old and she and her husband were both working.
“But what really prompted me was that my husband had a stroke and was in the hospital. I brought Ozzie here and he got along with Dr. Major’s dogs so well. He runs out of steam by the time he gets home,” said Labadie, who added she brings the dog to day care between two and five days a week.
She also like the fact that Ozzie gets medical care while at the clinic.
“If there’s anything wrong, they take care of him right away,” she said.
Major said some people who opt for day care have puppies who can’t hold their urine all day, others are having work done on their houses with workers coming in and out, while others find their animal can be destructive if left home alone.
Some dogs are older and incontinent and their owners like the fact that the doctors are looking after their medical needs as well.
“And some are just crazy about their pets and don’t want them to stay home alone all day,” said Major, who brings his own two dogs, Skippy, a 12-year-old rescue dog, and Waldo, a 3-year-old, to the clinic every day.
Karen Morris, administrative assistant at Munster Animal Hospital, said people typically put their animals in day care because they don’t want their dog left unattended all day while they’re not at home.
“They want socialization for their dogs,” said Morris, who added the Munster clinic mostly gets adult dogs in the day care program.
Unlike at Four Seasons, Morris said Munster Animal Hospital isn’t set up for the animals to interact with other pets. She said the animals do get three to five leash walks a day. The cost is $13 a day for any animal, with an additional charge for 15 or 30 minutes of play time with a staff member.
They provide toys and bedding, but Morris said they would prefer the owner bring the animal’s regular food to avoid any stomach problems. Cats stay in kitty condos, which include a private “bathroom,” lounging shelf and kitty tree for exploration.
Valparaiso Animal Hospital also offers day care at a cost of $12 to $15 per day, depending on the size of the animal. Animals spending their day there get leash-walked a minimum of three times daily and receive one-on-one attention.
At Four Seasons Animal Hospital, non-aggressive animals are placed in a common room with other animals while under the watchful eye of a staff member, or if they’re older, Major said they could be just as content in a bed.
Four Seasons charges between $14 to $21 a day, depending on the size of the animal, but owners can get a $2-per-day discount if they prepay, said office manager Tina Michael.
There also are pet day cares not associated with a veterinarian clinic, including At Your Bark-N-Call in Crown Point and the franchise Dogtopia boarding, boutique and spa in Munster.