Dog daycares feeling strain of increased demand, staff shortages

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GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Nearly a year and a half into the pandemic, many industries are still feeling the strains of increased demand from customers, on top of continued staff shortages. 

Tim Parker, the owner of Dogtopia, says the dog care business has seen a steady increase in pet parents looking for care over the past couple of months. 

“We saw some increase in activity kind of slowly last fall and then really kind of the beginning of this year is when we’ve started to see a steady ramp-up,” he said.

That demand escalated in June after the work-from-home order expired. 

“We’ve seen demand really really increase in the last 6 to 8 weeks,” said Parker. “It’s a challenge throughout all the providers in the community.”

Parker added that before the increase, they were seeing approximately 50 to 65 dogs per day. Now they’re averaging 75 to 85 which is all the facility is able to accommodate. 

“We’re requiring reservations now, which we didn’t have to do in the past and we’re often hitting capacity especially in our smaller dog room where our smaller breeds and our puppies are because everyone got dogs during this timeframe and we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of puppies coming in.”

Third-party pet care companies like Rover are also seeing major increases. This past June it had the most bookings ever and saw the highest number of new customers. Rover is another option for people in the Grand Rapids area in need of help caring for a furry friend. 

Whether you book someone through a company like Rover or bring your pet to a physical daycare like Dogtopia, the biggest piece of advice Parker offered is to plan ahead whenever possible. It can be frustrating for both staff and customers when there isn’t space available. 

“We do our best to accommodate because their life is unpredictable right now and we’ll always try to accommodate but you don’t like to have to tell them sorry we can’t help you out today,” Parker said. “We’d love to help everybody out but we really can’t when it’s a last-minute request.”

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