Helping put the Prince Albert SPCA on the road to self-sufficiency, the Paw Print Inn boarding kennel has proven itself a resounding success.
“Our occupancy rate, compared to this time last year, has almost doubled,” board vice-chair Dan Troupe said.
“We have looked after just over 1,000 clients in that two year period … with lots of repeats.”
The Paw Print Inn opened in December of 2010 as the first of a three-phase project, which also includes an off-leash park and a yet to break ground SPCA facility.
“The board made the decision to build the boarding kennel first, because our research told us that the demand for that service far exceeded the supply in the area,” Troupe explained.
Jumping on this business opportunity before anyone else did was a successful decision, he said, with the facility raising money not only for the brand new SPCA facility, but once the facility is built will help fund its overhead costs.
“It’s going to be three times bigger than what we (currently) have,” executive director Debbie Lehner said of their out-of-date existing facility, noting that with the new facility will come more substantial overhead costs than they’re currently used to.
“We had to look for a way to generate revenue that was bigger than barbecuing hot dogs and calendar sales,” she said.
“We will always have to have a visible presence in the community, but this way we won’t have to be nickel and diming the community when we can’t pay our power bill … and that kind of stuff.”
With both the Paw Print Inn and the off-leash park constructed, the next step will be the brand new SPCA facility, which will join the other two phases at their North Industrial Road property, north of the river.
“We are planning to break ground this year, it just depends on the next month in terms of financing,” Troupe said of the new SPCA facility. “That’s our plan — if not, definitely in the spring.”
Between the Paw Print Inn’s revenues, funds they earn through pound keeping duties for the city and the lease of land to Saskatchewan General Insurance, Troupe said that the new facility is already on track to becoming fully self-sustained.
Although self-sufficient once it opens, funds still need to be raised to help pay for the new facility’s construction, with the SPCA’s New Leash on Life Building Campaign ongoing.
For more on the campaign, visit the SPCA’s website, at www.princealbertspca.com .
Boarding happy pets
The Paw Print Inn’s success is measured both in the fund it generates toward the upcoming SPCA facility and the positive atmosphere it creates for pets, Lehner said.
Walking through the facility, Lehner is quick to point out its many unique features that provide pets with a homey atmosphere.
Starting in the cat room, a wall of cat condos fill one wall, with a television positioned on the facing wall.
“It reduces stress and it’s very soothing for them,” Lehner explained of the couch-potato cats. “Any cat room you go into you no longer hear meowing and crying.”
The room, able to house up to eight cats, is also decked out with scratch posts and other feline playthings to keep them entertained when they’re allowed to roam free.
The dog area includes enough space for up to 50 dogs, which has sometimes proven itself not enough to meet local demand.
“If you came here in the weekend, there wasn’t a kennel to have,” Lehner said of the Labour Day long weekend. “From Friday through Monday it was booked solid.”
Music is piped throughout the building to help calm the canines, and five large outdoor areas provide them plenty of space to run around, socialize and splash in wading pools.
“The dogs love it! The staff go out and play catch with them,” Lehner said, noting that the dogs are let outside between five and seven times per day, spread out between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
In addition to boarding pets while their owners are out-of-town, the facility offers doggy day care service, allowing pet owners to drop their dogs off for a day’s worth of socialization.
A dog wash is also available on-site, with everything necessary for pet washing at owner’s disposal, at $10 a wash.
Outside is an off-leash park — “as a way of giving back to the community, for everything they’ve done for us,” Lehner said.
The off-leash park is free of charge, though there’s a donation box on-site to help pay for the water to fill wading pools and the bags provided for pet owners to pick up dog leavings.