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Doggie Day Care Business Grows

Americans spend some $35 billion a year on pet products - from food, treats and toys to vet bills and occasional boarding costs. The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association estimates the average cost of owning one dog $1500 per year. But some dog owners are not satisfied with providing their dog with the basics. WOSU's Christina Morgan reports .

In the Columbus Yellow Pages, between Karaoke equipment and Kerosene, pet lovers will find a smorgasbord of services for dogs - pet suites, pet resorts, a canine college. Boarding and grooming services and obedience training have been around for years, but now, for the owner who can't stand the thought of Fido "home alone" during the work day, there's doggie day care.

Dog day care is there to make sure their dog has fun, learns, socializes, trains and enjoys the day while they're away.

Jim Tarantine is the marketing director, yes - marketing director - of Doggie Day Care on Mound Street in downtown Columbus. His wife, Amber Tarantine, purchased the business four years ago. The building appears to be a small warehouse until you step inside the area where the dogs are trotting about, checking on each other and on two young women - called pack leaders - who monitor the animals' play and clean up after them. A handful of the dogs are lounging on small platforms, and it's fairly peaceful until the dogs realize a visitor has arrived and three dozen animals try to get my attention.

The play area includes some Little Tykes play equipment for young children. One park goer says If it's good enough for my human child, it's good enough for my dog child.

Many of the dogs who visit Doggie Day Care come from dual income families.

Type of people who use dog day care consider dogs their children Empty nester single families w/o children or families w/o children yet or single adults.

Tarantine says dogs spend an average of one to three days per week at Doggie Day Care with the highest daily cost at 22 dollars. He wants to point out that Doggie Day Care is strictly a day care business - though some grooming is available. On State Route 161 east of Columbus in Pataskala, the Broadway Kennels story is the reverse. A dog kennel for 13 years, new owner Jody Clum added dog day care in August and will add obedience training to help cover the winter months when business is usually lighter. The day I visit, she has just two customers, but they will likely have a good time.

Everyday dogs go on field trips and go back out into the yards total 4 of 12 hrs, get to run, romp play, we throw the ball they chase ea other around trees. They really do enjoy it.

Clum charges up to $17 per day, and says the dogs aren't the only ones having a good time, I get up every morning and play w/ dogs. It's not really work.

Those who manufacture food, treats, toys and the boat-load of other products available today for pets have taken careful note of the trend toward spending more on animals. Bob Vetere is the CEO & Managing Director of the association that represents those manufacturers.

Trend fed by baby boomers, kids at college, pets fill larger roll .after college, little more income to spend on fluffy and fido.

Vetere says today's trend is toward humanizing pets, so any product you find for a human - adult or child - will likely become available for a pet, You'll find vitamin supplemented foods, senior pet formulas, sun glasses, corrective glasses, Lands End has clothes and booties for your dog.

And, for less than $200, you can even provide your dog with a cell phone. Actual working cell phone fits on collar, you call number, rings once, answers on speaker, and you get to talk to your dog, says Vetere.

Vetere, who notes some owners drop by doggie day care centers during their lunch hour to spend time with their pet, says, such pampering is understandable, I think as world becomes little scarier, peoples jobs become less interactive with other people, need for companionship, love and affection that pets fill the bill for very well.

And as long as pets fill the bill, the bills associated with pet ownership will likely increase.