Changes in Local pet Businesses, for Better or Worse


These are our pets!

These are our pets!

I originally published remarks about some businesses  in 2009–, because I was so outraged by how several local businesses treated dogs.  Some things have changed, and  since  people Google businesses, I  felt  everyone  was owed an update.

You just can’t assume that people in the pet industry really love pets and really care for them.  I get so many hits on this particular blog, which I posted in 2009, that I decided to re-edit and update it.   It has to do with people  who are active in the pet industry.  Believe me, they are not all pet lovers. They are not pet haters…but because they make their livings from either breeding or caring for pets, the public  thinks they do love pets more then the pet owners love their pets.  Some of the ‘integrity challenged’ seems to have a lot of time on their hands to just be evil.

There is now a  Facebook site called  Flagging Animal Sales on Craigslist.    We have a network of people around the country. Some may even be dog breeders…but they are not selling on CL, which prohibits animal sales.We repost the links (to the animal selling posts)on our feeds, and ask people to flag.  I am not sure how effective we are, but  we may be.  I get fewer emails from  animal sellers, but  people seem to be joining our ranks.  For those who do not know, California prohibits internet sales of pets. That’s where Craigslist is housed.  Craig and  the  founders felt that the site should be for older pets, so they wouldn’t have to compete with baby animals for homes.  Unfortunately, the ‘law of the commons’ relies on integrity—and  animal sellers generally have none, You will rarely find ethical hobby breeders posts. yes, sometimes, some hobby breeder  doesn’t read the rules,  but  most would be horrified to use a free website—as it attracts the wrong kind of potential owner.

I had reported people leaving fake reviews on a PETFINDER site, and the response from Jamie Cook at Discovery Channel/www.petfinder.com  I had asked them to  either remove the negative comments on my  site, “Robyn’s Groom Room”—as they are libelous—because  the people who posted them are not my clients & never have been—they are irresponsible breeders libeling me, & this is how  Cook responded:

“Unfortunately, we will not be able to remove the ratings posted for your grooming service.  One of the many features that our directory offers is the opportunity for users to post ratings, both good and bad, about the businesses with which they have had experiences. We don’t censor these ratings as that negates the purpose of offering them. If we remove negative ratings for businesses then we are not portraying an objective and well rounded service for Petfinder.com visitors.

“We highly encourage you to have clients who are happy with your office and the services they received  post their own positive ratings. Simply have them click the following link, then click on the Rate it! link and enter their comments: http://resources.petfinder.com/listing/robyns_groom_room.html.

“The other option would be to remove your listing completely from the Petfinder.com Local Services & Supplies Directory. This would remove all information about your business, including any ratings that have been submitted, so any users who are looking for a groomer in your area would not see your information. If you would like to go with this option please let me know and I will remove your listing immediately.”

That’s right.  He totally ignored what I told him.  I told him to ask the people who libeled me for veterinary receipts.  Yes—several claimed I injured their dogs!  I told him, since I  don’t take new clients who live over  5 miles from me, unless they mail me a deposit  (because they tend to not show up), to ask these people where they lived.  I asked him to  ask them what colors my grooming room  are (people have commented on my color choices—so they don’t forget it).  But nothing—no response.  Petfinder is going about happily believing  every  poster has a bit of integrity.  I shudder to think how many rescues that post are actually  puppy mill outlets—but I guess we’ll never know.  They clearly don’t do any ‘due diligence’—relying on the integrity of any poster.  The update on this is that we keep finding  ‘fake’ dog rescues…where people get  dogs to rehome, often doing no health check, and not screening adopters.  Neither PETFINDER nor  http://www.adoptapet.com do any due diligence. that’s the way it is,  let the buyer (or adoptor) beware….  As of 2014, no more businesses can post, They’ve closed this part of Petfinder.  I guess they realized what I said was true..

I had taken a grooming job for a  business, because I saw the potential….  and  the location was somewhat close to  some of my former grooming clients, and  the owners of the business lied to me.  Of course, I was able to determine that they lied to me right away.  The business is Yuppy Puppy, Inc., in Lake Bluff, Illinois.  They  originally set it up to do dog daycare, but realizing they could not make  enough money doing that, they also do overnight boarding. They are licensed to keep up to 85 dogs overnight.  Licensed?  By The Illinois Department of Agriculture, of course.  The laws pertaining to dog boarding, dog daycare—indeed, even puppy mills—-are so poorly written, that unless the building is dangerous for humans to occupy—you get a license.  That’s how it is in Illinois.

The business is  (was) owned by the Whitakers:  Peter, the father, & Lucy & Simon, the son & daughter. Thing is—Lucy got married & moved out of state, & Simon is about to do so.  This leaves Peter, who clearly  isn’t  really a dog enthusiast. He is a businessman.

Update—very important!  This business was sold several months ago  (early 2014)to Walter Puterbaugh, and he has made phenomenal changes!  I stopped by the business as I  check Yelp! reviews, and  a change of ownership was indicated.  Walter and his fiance, Janae,  obviously know way more about dogs that the Whitakers ever cared to learn.  They have done an amazing build out that will alleviate a lot of stress on the dogs.  If you are looking for dog daycare  in the northern suburbs of Chicago, I urge you to check them out. Granted, they are still totally indoors, but the set-up is so much  better!  Only the name is the same.

I’ve never been overly fond of  the concept of dog daycare, but  having worked in some  outstanding kennels (check out Pawsatively Heaven Pet Resort in Chicago Ridge, Ill., or Paradise for Paws, in Schiller Park, ILL), I’ve softened.  Some dogs  have a lot of energy, and love being part of a pack.  I see dogs playing together all the time.

I have been working for the same employer for  about three years.  We recently moved the  operations to a new building.  There are some very nice aspects to  this, and in some ways it is better (for the humans, at least), but I am not sure it is better for the dogs.  Our indoor floors are shiny and slippery, and our outdoor play area is mush smaller.  We no longer have a huge pool, which was a big selling point in the old building.  The fact is that most of the large dogs don’t really  run around that much—but they might if their footing was more solid and they had more space.

One guy I had worked for briefly and blogged about, Vaughan Neita, “A Doggie Business,” is OUT OF BUSINESS.  He was charged with ‘neglect of owners duties’  ( animal cruelty) and word spread.  You can Google him, the links are still up.

Plus, a bit of unhappiness….a business I worked for on contract for several years, recently suffered very bad local attention. They were “The Hungry Pup,” and changed their name several years ago to “Follow Your Nose.”  They offer natural dog foods, dog walking, and overnight pet sitting.  I had trouble working for them because they  would not address their web marketing, nor procedures so I would know  several days in advance what I was doing—or even if I had any work (grooming), but I had to give Dave Gulyas credit for being able to schedule so many dog walkers.  I mostly did over night pet sitting.  Problems started to arise when  more and more people  started asking for ‘vacation care’ rather than overnight pet sitting—because they didn’t want to pay extra to have someone stay in the house.  I didn’t think the Gulyas’ should allow this, because there was no way the last walk would  occur after 9 p.m.  and the first walk would be before 8 a.m.—and that is too long an interval for most dogs. But also, what kept the dog walkers honest changed:  When the Gulyas’ started the business, everyone had a landline at home. so, when you arrived to walk a dog, you’d call in to  Dave (a computer would take the call), and 20 minutes later, after the walk, you’d call in to say you were leaving, You had to wait 20 minutes  for the interval, you may as well walk the dog.  I don’t want to get into the complications of getting a dog suited up, the keys, possibly cleaning up, or the dog not eliminating on the walk. The point is, you called in from the client’s phone.   As people  got rid of their land lines, you’d supposedly call in from your cell, but I knew the Gulyas’ were not keeping track, and often, I’d be the next walker and see the previous walker hadn’t shown up!  Well, it came to a head, recently.    A dog walking client didn’t want to pay for overnight pet sitting.  He set up a ‘nanny-cam‘ that was  set to alert him (on his cell phone) to movement in his home—and he discovered  the interval was 18 hours.  A walker  had not shown up.    Worse, when he did, he  dismantled the nanny cam!  The Gulyas definitely know who did this, and I would sue the evil eunuch for  sabotaging my small business if this was my employee.     Frankly, several friends and I wondered why he didn’t keep the dogs in exercise pets, which  would have given the dogs a bit more room, but that’s another issue.   I am sure he  alerted the Gulyas’, but what can they do?  That’s the problem with running a dog walking business:  you rely on the integrity of the employees….and, unfortunately, the people who are doing this often are doing this because they can’t get other work.  What this client DID was contact local news media…and this was definitely not good for a business that was already marginal.  I often referred people looking for dog walkers to  this business, as I really trust Dave & Ramie…but the fact of the matter is, unless you can learn from the business owner how you can be assured your dog will be walked….look for as many options as you can, including friends and neighbors who live close by.  or, if it is  a occaisional thing,  get your dog used to dog daycare…or at least day-boarding.  For those who own dog walking businesses—if you change the walker’s routes every day, the statistical odds of all your walkers being  immature, self-centered assholes are  slimmer.   Labor intensive?  Overkill?  These are peoples’ pets.  They may be spoiled, out of control, hard to handle, but  I know hiring a dog walker may be a last resort before abandoning a pet. Actually spot checking the walkers you hire helps.  I understand people wanting the same walker, and  dogs being familiar with who is coming in (believe me—none of these dogs is a watch dog), but  face it—-most people have less integrity than you have, not more.

 

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One Response to “Changes in Local pet Businesses, for Better or Worse”

  1. Tali Says:

    I had a dealing with a bad breeder via petfinder, and got the same message from them after posting about it. They backed up the bad breeder and removed my post. I would be very cautious buying a puppy from breeders on that site or listening to anything said on there for that reason.

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