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A Special Place for Dogs & Cats (NJ)

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  • A Special Place for Dogs & Cats (NJ)

    BRANCHVILLE -- When Willow, a mixed breed rescue dog, first started attending "doggy daycare" at Snips-N-Tails, she was a bit timid.

    As is the case with many rescue animals, Willow's prior history, such as where she came from or what environment she lived in, is a mystery, but the staff at Snips-N-Tails, a pet groomer and daycare, have been dedicated to staying patient and helping the pup come out of her shell.

    That, according to Kim Ragazzo, who works in the doggy daycare with fellow employee, Allie Bensley, has helped Willow become an entirely different dog.

    Willow, who greets visitors by hopping in the front window of the shop, has grown tremendously over the past few weeks, Ragazzo said, and has benefitted from one-on-one socialization with her and other staff members.

    On a recent visit to the center, dogs in the daycare center played in pools of plastic balls, ran through clear tunnels, munched on healthy treats, playfully wrestled with one another, enjoyed chasing after balls, or simply snuggled up to a staff member.

    As she snuggled with one of the pups, named Aspen, Ragazzo stated, "They become yours in a way, like your adopted fur babies."

    The daycare is just a small piece of what goes on at Snips-N-Tails, owned by sisters Cheryl Salerno and Marsha Polan. The business began in a small facility in 2006 in Port Jervis, N.Y., according to Polan, but due to eminent domain, they had to find a new place.

    With a larger facility painted to their liking -- Salerno's favorite color, pink, covers one wall while a fun animal-themed mural dons the rest of the store -- their new facility is now located off Route 206 north in Branchville.

    The full-service grooming salon is perhaps the shining light at the facility, with Polan bringing 36 years of experience.

    While the experience for the dogs can be daunting, Polan said it's important to make sure they are calm and relaxed, making sure she takes the time necessary to make an animal is comfortable.

    "We get a lot of new clients come in with their dogs and are so terrified to leave them, but believe it or not, dogs can sense their fear and anxiety, and it tells them to be nervous as well," Polan said.

    Polan moved slowly as she worked on brushing out a knot of a longer hair dog, stating that her energy level and calm demeanor has allowed the dog, while in an uncomfortable situation, realize he is safe.

    Polan said she has been nipped and cut over the years by various dogs, but when asked what breed may be the hardest to work with, she responded, "You can't sterotype a breed."

    With happy pups running about in the daycare and getting makeovers in the grooming room, over in a quiet section of the facility, housed in a sound-proof room, are a handful of friendly cats, either being boarded or waiting for their turn on the grooming table.

    Salerno said that she often gets told that "cats don't need grooming," but it's a common misconception; not only can cats get dirty, but the fur on longer haired breeds tend to become matted if it is not brushed regularly.

    Polan, who attended the International School of Animal Arts when she was 18, became an apprentice before she opened her own grooming salon, Marsha's Animal Kingdom, in 1983.

    After being diagnosed with Lyme disease three years after she was infected, Polan had to take some time off to recover, and while she worked other odd jobs, she never really found her "dream job."

    The same was true for Salerno, who was a part-time bank teller turned branch manager.

    With Polan's skills in grooming and Salerno's skills in handling the finances, the sisters decided they would open up shop together.

    "I remember asking her, ‘Are you happy in your job?'" Polan said. "And she hesitated and said, ‘Well, it's a job.'"

    The sisters couldn't be happier, the agreed.

    Another person they wanted to make sure would be happy was their father, Bob Polan, who passed away in April.

    "He would have been here in a heartbeat," Polan said.

    The day the women officially opened the shop -- on August 9 -- is the same day as their father's birthday.

    "We wish he could have been here, but I truly think he was," Salerno said.

    Snips-N-Tails is located at 328 Route 206, Branchville, and also offers a do-it-yourself pet wash station, complete with shampoo, a dryer and towels. Through October, Snips-N-Tails is charging $10 at its pet washing station instead of its usual $25, and all proceeds will benefit 42 dogs rescued from Hurricane Florence. The dogs are being housed at the Middletown Humane Society in Middletown, N.Y.

    They offer grooming from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and day care from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.
    Coordinators post updates to the message for grooming events, members contests, Classified Ads, GroomerTALK Radio shows and Magazine online.