As Business Falls, Denver Dog Daycares Work to Stay Alive Amid Disease Concerns

DENVER — When a customer walks through the front door at Bark and Play Dog Daycare in Denver, rings a loud bell in the building and is usually met with loud barking from all the dogs staying there for daycare. When Denver7 entered Friday afternoon, the lobby was noticeably quiet.

“My daycare business is down about 75 percent in the last two months,” said Kimberly Bishop, owner of Bark and Play. “We went from just crazy numbers to nothing.”

She has been in the dog daycare business for almost a decade. The holiday season is usually what he calls “Super Bowl Time.”

“The whole time is based on that,” Bishop explained. “We like to have our best people, have everybody in and trained and everything else right now. Because it usually drags here. Everybody’s traveling, nobody can take their dogs with them on the airlines. I’m sure he would like but that’s why I exist — so people can travel and not worry about their dogs while they’re away.”

Like Mysterious respiratory disease continues to spread among dogsmany owners choose not to board their dogs at kennels, resulting in many cancellations and no new customers.

“I got a journal in front of which when new dogs come in we write their names,” Bishop said. “We haven’t had one in two months.”

She had to cut shifts for her employees – a difficult decision during the holidays.

“It’s hard. Bills, rent, employees. You don’t want to let anyone go because they’re amazing. But I can’t afford to pay anyone, much less myself,” she said.

Bark and Play is far from the only daycare dog facing the strain.

Denver7 called several different businesses to see if this was affecting them as well. All of them explained a huge drop in business during what was supposed to be their busiest time of year.

Many parents opt for pets instead.

Pet care company Wag! contract with more than 450,000 pet sitters nationwide.

They told Denver7 they’ve seen a spike in pet bookings and one-on-one boarding since news of the illness began to spread.

“We’re definitely seeing an increase in requests,” said Wag! CEO Garrett Smallwood. “Overall in the fourth quarter, we’re anticipating 40-plus percent year-over-year growth across the entire business. When things aren’t good with your pet’s health, it’s generally better to have someone there one-on-one full employment.”

This tip is also sourced from local vetssomething Bishop said she totally understands.

“I totally understand,” he said. “There’s no hard feelings on this side about it. Because, you know, without all the knowledge, I’d probably do the same thing. So you know, what can you do?”

Bishop said she and her staff will continue to take every precaution to keep their current customers’ pets safe, even increasing pet cleaning and handling protocols New Recommendations Released by Colorado Department of Agriculture and Pet Care and Facilities Act.

To keep pets safe, experts suggest owners make sure their dogs’ kennel cough and flu shots are up to date, monitor them for signs of respiratory illness (such as coughing, sneezing, runny nose, difficulty breathing and fatigue) and take them to the vet immediately if any of these symptoms are observed.

Several different dog sitting sites have offered suggestions on how to support them as customers, even if pet owners make the decision to keep their dog at home for the time being.

Consider buying:
– Special one-on-one lessons if your facility offers training courses
– Gift cards
– Day care or boarding credits for use at a later date


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