This fur-friendly retreat rejects the image of endless rows of cramped cages that traditional animal boarding usually conjures. Upon entering their pet resort, clients find a 1/2 acre of land, 5,000 square feet of indoor play areas, and spacious doggie suites stocked with toys and soft bedding under skylights. Before each visit begins, canine guests undergo a temperament assessment where caretakers study their play styles, food or toy aggressions, and any fear toward new people in order to gauge their unique personalities. Pooches then join up with peers of a similar size and demeanor in one of eight separate play areas featuring wading pools, digging pits, and a fully stocked shoe store. Dogs looking for some down time can recline on comfy beds and couches while enjoying their regular eating schedules courtesy of a 24 hour staff.
The thoughtful dog-whisperers will also board pets from the same household in a family suite and can administer any medications as directed by the client. Grooming services and photo sessions ensure four-legged friends stay front-page ready. Downtown Doggie Center also specializes in finding homes for orphaned pups with their adoption services.
Since 1988, the staffers at Pet Supplies Plus have welcomed millions of furry critters of every stripe—from llamas and monkeys to potbellied pigs—into their animal-friendly stores in Pinellas Park and Clearwater. They design their shop so that both pets and their owners can easily navigate the inventory of more than 10,000 items. Wide aisles give leashed pups enough room to roam, colorful signage keeps shoppers moving in the right direction, and low shelves allow dogs to sniff out their preferred brand of rawhide chew. A self-serve dog wash enables guests to scrub their canine companions' coats to a youthful, puppy-like shine, whereas grooming services enlist professionals to tackle tougher jobs, such as brushing out matted fur or convincing dalmatians to stop mixing white and black after Labor Day.
As groomers with more than 20 years of experience and proud "pet parents" of four dogs, husband-and-wife team Mike and Tammy Vasquez strive to provide a comfortable, cage-free environment for animal lovers and their four-legged companions. Their lengthy menu of grooming options ranges from full-service scrub-downs to a simple bath and brushing, and teeth cleaning and breath-freshening treatments cater to pups with an insatiable appetite for french onion soup. After grooming appointments, owners can stock up on their pup's favorite holistic food and treats in Bark Life's fully stocked shop while Fido fetches a specialty collar to complement his new 'do.
Crowned with a bright pink pompadour and sporting stenciled spots on its legs, another "creative grooming” client emerges from Beach Groomers Pet Salon & Boutique. Some of these sessions are inspired by trends in Japan, and they’re not for the meek—they give dogs and cats a look as bold as football jerseys with comic sans font. The groomings are a special endeavor for owner Danielle Moyse, a dog owner herself whose core competency is traditional grooming services. Danielle can perform a standard bath and trim hair and nails, and she can add a spritz of cologne and tie a jaunty bandana around her canine or feline client’s neck. She and her staff also pamper pets with spa treatments, such as facials that lift dirt and cupcake sprinkles embedded around mouths and sugar scrubs that exfoliate.
The staff members at Cattitude by Unleashed Pet Spa specialize in cat care services. Certified feline master groomer, Lisa, wields feline-specific grooming tools and products for each full grooming session of nail trimming, ear cleaning, and bathing. For overnight boarding, the staff members place each cat in a clean, private room outfitted with cat-sized ledges for lounging and napping.
A mechanic opens the hood of a car, inspects vital fluid levels, and carefully removes a four-week old kitten. Now known as Mercedes—named after her former automotive residence—she is a permanent resident of South Tampa Puppy Palace. Pet owners, dogs, and cats may spot 2-year-old Mercedes wandering throughout parts of the large facility, whose webcam-equipped boarding suites (for cats and dogs), dog runs, and play yards have the capacity for more than 150 animals. The facility's custom-built saltwater pool gives pups a 20'x30' tub to splash around in without their owners worrying about chlorine's potentially harmful effects on coats, skin, and tails' wagging patterns. The play yards also feature canopies under which dogs can cool off with fans and misters.
Led by manager Tiffanie Ivins, a former veterinary technician, South Tampa Puppy Palace's personnel include a retired veterinarian and a handful of experienced groomers. All the staffers use their extensive training in canine CPR and interpreting body language to carefully supervise dogs' playtime and prevent unwanted ear nibbling. In an effort to help dogs without permanent homes, South Tampa Puppy Palace also assists three area rescue groups by offering foster care to pups still waiting to find loving families.