Whether they own a pandemic puppy, a long-in-the-tooth canine or a frolicsome feline, pet owners should soon be getting an upgrade in their options for pet boarding and day care.
Sisters Savannah Dillard and Sierra Hanson have turned their love of fur babies into an entrepreneurial venture they’re calling The Barkmore that is geared toward providing a temporary home for pets that is comfortable for the animals and comforting for their owners.
Dillard, 24, and Hanson, 22, are overseeing construction of the 6,000-square-foot structure on Brianna Court across from the Meijer grocery and are aiming to open next month what Dillard calls a “hotel for pets.”
The building now taking shape is far from institutional, with a chandeliered reception area, high-tech amenities and subtle touches like “fear-free” wall coloring.
“We wanted it to feel more like a hotel for pets, not just a kennel,” Dillard said.
The sisters’ plan to open a business catering to the pet-owning demographic has been in the works for a while and grew out of their work at All Creatures Animal Hospital.
“We’ve talked about opening a pet day care for a couple of years,” Dillard said. “So many people need a place to take their dogs and cats.”
Taking that germ of an idea, the sisters approached their father, Frank Hanson, who has owned Bowling Green’s AAA Systems security company for 28 years.
“He said, ‘If you think you can make it happen, I’ll help you,’ ” Dillard recalled.
Dillard and her sister did their homework, looking at pet day care and boarding facilities in larger cities to come up with a building design and a business plan.
“I’m a business guy, so I said they needed to put it on paper and see if it’ll work,” Frank Hanson said. “They did a really good job. I’m proud of them for taking this on.”
Not that putting together financial projections and a building design were a walk in the dog park.
“It was a lot of work,” Sierra Hanson said. “It definitely was not an easy thing to do.”
While continuing to work at All Creatures Animal Hospital, the sisters spent their after-hours time researching and planning.
“We were able to see what other facilities looked like inside and outside,” Sierra Hanson said. “We wanted to give people what they wanted.”
What the sisters came up with is a facility that can house as many as 43 dogs and six cats for day care or boarding.
That simple concept, though, took some time to get off the ground – and to get the financing needed for Bowling Green’s Builders by Design to move ahead with construction.
“There were a lot of ‘nos’,” Dillard said of the pitches to banks. “But we were finally able to bring it together. We were very persistent.”
And very particular.
The final design includes some dog suites with cameras that pet owners can access for online viewing, a paperless registration process and a “24-hour room” that allows owners to drop off their pets at all hours.
“We know some people really value their dogs,” said Dillard, who has four dogs of her own. “We want the dogs to feel as comfortable as possible.”
As they toured the one-acre construction site Wednesday, the sisters could see their plan coming together. They’re shooting for The Barkmore to open for boarding Nov. 22 and for day care on Dec. 1.
“We’re excited to get open and show people what we have,” Dillard said.
– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdaily news.com.