Pet owners who have demanding jobs but see their dogs as essential members of the family have long felt guilty about leaving their four-legged companions home alone, traditionally turning to neighbors or kennels to look after them.
A new “doggy day care,” however, is set to open in Riverdale by the end of the year — but it’s not exactly what Fido or Missy might expect.
Leslie Centofanti and fiancé Chad Goldman have partnered with a software company called Pet Check, designed to give pet owners real-time updates about their best friend aiding in ensuring that pets are in good hands.
“Pet Check makes a hug difference for us, and especially pet owners,” Goldman said. “There’s pictures, and everything’s online, so it makes our lives so much easier, whereas before, owners would have to rely solely on a dog walker’s word that the job was done.”
Centofanti initially started Pumkin Paws as strictly a dog-walking service back in 2011 after an early morning traffic accident with a school bus left her bed-ridden, changing Centofanti’s career path in aiding public schools.
“I quickly noticed there was a need for dog walkers after I started walking dogs to supplement my income at the time,” Centofanti said. “Most walkers you see walking dogs tend to be in large packs. I gravitated towards a more one-on-one experience, helping me connect with the dogs I was walking.”
Since then, Centofanti and Goldman have expanded their business, employing seven full-time dog walkers who utilize a smartphone app called Pet Check.
Doug Simon developed the app in Chicago after realizing spreadsheets and other traditional tracking methods were an inefficient tool for his own dog day care business.
Pet owners wanted better communication, and dog walkers wanted more accessible scheduling. Both also wanted something that would prevent walkers from “cutting corners” and neglecting animals, and instead making sure they go where they’re supposed to be.
Each visit through the app is verified with mobile check-ins, GPS tracking, and even pet owner email alerts.
Not anyone can just start this kind of business either. Centofanti and Goldman had to first undergo training in animal care and handling, as managed by the city’s health and mental hygiene, as well as the buildings department.
Technologies like Pet Check have been instrumental in recent years, borrowing a lot from the playbook utilized by ride-hailing apps like Uber and Juno.
Goldman already enjoyed a career in publishing, but after seeing Centofanti’s dog-walking take off, he decided to pursue this new career path with his fiancée.
“We saw the potential and the work was something we both enjoyed doing,” Goldman said. “We saw a need for it. The new doggy day care means a lot to us.”