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Groomer/Doggie Daycare Dispute - Lack of Regulations

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  • Groomer/Doggie Daycare Dispute - Lack of Regulations

    A dispute between a Regina doggy daycare, a former employee and a neighbouring business is shining a light on what some advocates call a lack of regulation in the pet care business.

    Off the Leash is a dog grooming and doggy daycare business in Regina's warehouse district. It experienced online controversy last week after a neighbouring business posted video of dogs barking and an employee yelling.

    Noise complaints go through the city and any official animal welfare complaints are handled by the Regina Humane Society.

    Regulations around B.C. animal shelters overdue, advocate says

    A former Off the Leash employee said she quit the job after one day because of the "disgusting" conditions.

    Michelle Blaser worked at the business in the summer of 2018. She wrote about her experience online.

    "I almost didn't come back after my lunch break," she said.

    "After the day, I went home and bawled my eyes out."

    Blaser worked at Off the Leash for one day in the summer of 2018. (Trent Peppler/CBC)
    Blaser said the dogs had no toys and no beds to lay on and that she was the only person looking after 20 or more dogs all day. She also said the dogs went home covered in pee because they have to urinate inside and outside on a small asphalt pad.

    "I have zero training. My training was, 'Have you ever broken up a dog fight?' and I said, 'No.' They were like, 'It's not that hard.' That was my training," Blaser said.

    "I'm not saying they're bad people, but what they're doing is totally wrong."

    Owner disputes allegations
    Kayla Sywanyk owns Off the Leash. She disputed a few of Blaser's allegations.

    The hours of operation for Off the Leash are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., which is the maximum amount of time the dogs can be there. The business website states its maximum intake is 25 dogs per day.

    Off the Leash is located in the warehouse district in Regina. (Trent Peppler/CBC)
    The building is essentially divided in half, with the front half being used for grooming and retail, and the back half used for daycare. The outside component is a small pen secured to the building. The dogs defecate and urinate inside as well as outside on the asphalt, but Sywanyk said messes are cleaned up immediately and floors are sanitized at the end of every day.

    "We hide nothing. If [people] want to walk in, we have an open door policy," she said.

    The dogs do have toys and soft places to lay down and there are two or three people looking after the dogs at any time, according to Sywanyk.

    She said she communicates openly with owners of pets that attend her daycare. Big and small dogs are kept together, and the owners are aware that if there are fights or a dog is acting up, that dog could be leashed and kept separately in another room.

    She said there have been two or three injuries at her business where dogs need vet care and she said she has paid for those. She also said those dogs still go to the daycare.

    The application owners have to complete to be accepted into Off the Leash's daycare is several pages long.

    Sywanyk said the business doesn't turn dogs away based on responses to certain questions like: "My dog has exhibited the following behaviors: Has bit another dog."

    "We give every dog a chance. We bring them in here, we mix them with a couple dogs and we go from there," she said.

    The Regina Humane Society says it has never attended Off the Leash because of a complaint.
    Coordinators post updates to the message for grooming events, members contests, Classified Ads, GroomerTALK Radio shows and Magazine online.