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Demand for pet sitting business

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Asbury, Iowa (AP) —Thursday afternoon, Nikki Livefried threw a blue rubber ball into the backyard of Asbury’s house, and Willa, three, jumped to pick it up.

“I’m a good boy,” said Livefried, scratching Willa’s ears when the Golden Retriever dropped the ball at his feet after a while.

Willa’s house was the seventh house Livefried visited on Thursday as part of her business, Nikki’s pet-sitting work. She and her 13 employees take care of dogs, cats, reptiles, rabbits, birds and fish throughout the tri-state area while their owners are at work or out of town.

Summer and spring holidays are always busy, but Leibfried said her calendar has been particularly packed lately. By early July, she was fully booked until August and the Labor Day weekend.

“For the past year, I’ve hired five to catch up, but I’ve probably been able to hire six more,” she told Dubuque Telegraph Herald.

Leibfried’s experience has also been reflected in other owners of pet sitting and dog day care businesses, who are reporting an increasing demand for their services. Many cite the COVID-19 pandemic as a factor in that boost.

“During the pandemic, many went out and adopted pets, many of whom were first-time pet owners,” said Mary Elschen, owner of Dubuque’s business FidoFit. “When things really started to open again, people started returning to work, and this summer and early spring, people started traveling.”

Erschen operates a professional dog fitness gym on 595 Huff Street in Suite C. FidoFit offers classes and training for dogs and their humans, as well as training and exercise classes for the “Puppy Montessori” and a “Day Gym” program that acts like a dog. Day care with structured gym activities.

Elshen said he hasn’t seen anything like the current level of demand in his 12-year business. So every night, my voice mailbox is full of clients looking for a place to stay and play with their furry friends.

“I can’t even go through all the emails and voicemails, even if all I’m doing is a courtesy visit,” she said. “I suggested to people,’Did you think of pet sitters?’ But then they all reach capacity.”

She said two local veterinarians recently stopped offering boarding services, which prompted clients to do business like her.

Based in Dyersville, Briley is a dog grooming, boarding and day care business at the 1633 15th Ave SE, and owner Briget Featherston is expanding its facilities to meet growing demand.

This expansion adds 5,500 square feet of indoor space and approximately 14,000 square feet of outdoor space, including 22 additional kennels and a second day care room. Once the work is complete, Briley will now be able to accept 30-35 dogs for day care. In contrast, today’s business can care for 15 dogs.

Featherston said he was also considering opening a second location in Dubuque.

People who buy pets during a pandemic are aware that animals not only need to be cared for on a daily basis, but also benefit from interactions with other dogs and humans at companies such as Briley. She said.

“Many (of dogs) aren’t very sociable just because their families are always at home … and now, if these dogs aren’t used to a lot of dogs, people go out, family and I bring my friends. People don’t know how they react, “she said.

Victoria Vail, who lives in Dubuque, owns Dog Days Dubuque on 3135 University Avenue, offering weekday day care for dogs and several classes for puppies. The business, which opened in late 2019, took only six months to reach capacity, so Vail said he has been making a waiting list ever since.

She follows part of the growth in business with “pandemic puppies” purchased during the blockade of COVID-19, but the demand for services like her is also the result of changing people’s sentiment towards animals. I feel it.

“I think people’s views of pets are very different from what they were a few years ago. These dogs are part of the family,” Vail said. “I have a dog, and he’s like my baby. People want to make a big difference in how they treat dogs, and I think they want this kind of option.”

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