Wagly provides a pack of services for pets, under the same framework

Bellevue-based Wagly is opening a series of pet care centers that offer everything from veterinary services to daycares and even dog handlers, betting this integrated approach will help it stand out in a growing market.

After targeting dog owners in San Francisco and Orange County, Calif., with large facilities offering grooming, day care and veterinarian services all under one roof, the pet services company of Wagly company is coming home with a 10,000 square foot pet care center in the Lake Hills neighborhood of Bellevue.

The new “pet campus,” which opens next Tuesday and begins serving customers on July 1, is two stories tall and contains a fully operational veterinary hospital.

Bellevue-based Wagly has been providing in-home services in the Eastside since late last year, but the new facility marks its first physical center in Washington state. A center in Seattle’s University District will soon follow.

Chief executive Shane Kelly said the company, backed by more than $10 million from a New York-based private equity firm, plans to open seven more facilities by the end of September. Its workforce should increase from 200 to 900 employees by the end of the year.

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The company’s approach was developed by a team drawn from the industry.

Kelly served from 1996 to 1999 as CEO of Pet’s Choice, a Bellevue-based chain of animal hospitals that grew to more than 60 locations under his leadership. He also served as CEO from 2013 to 2015 at Best Friends Acquisition, the parent company of Best Friends Pet Care, which has 38 pet care service centers and 15 veterinary hospitals in the United States.

Wagly’s Chief Medical Officer, Peter Brown, has practiced veterinary medicine for over 24 years and founded Chuckanut Valley Veterinary in Burlington, Skagit County in 1991.

Kelly said their past experience has shown that hospitals with ancillary services — grooming, boarding, etc. – had grown twice as fast as those who did not. The goal was therefore to create a company where the entire range of services is offered in one place with an integrated approach.

“That kind of was the nirvana of where we wanted to go,” Kelly said.

“We are providing care for this animal that is in the best interest of this animal,” Brown said. “So it doesn’t matter if it’s a medical case, like an infection, or if they need some mental stimulation to go to day camp.”

Veterinarians are integrated into the entire process, from childcare to overnight stays.

Wagly dog ​​handlers and trainers undergo training focused on canine communication.

“Working professionally with dogs takes a lot of patience and quick eyes,” said Seth Fox, who manages Wagly’s Bay Area operations and previously ran Smilin’ Dogs, a pet services company acquired by Wagly.

His approach is to find the sweet spot to mix training and positive reinforcement with the practicality of game management.

“Reading dog body language is like learning another language,” Fox said.

Wagly is entering a market with promising prospects. The American Pet Products Association reported that American consumers spent $60.28 billion on pets last year. This included $5.41 billion for pet services and $15.42 billion for veterinary care. These categories are expected to grow by 5.9% and 3.2% respectively this year.

Wendy Liebmann, CEO of WSL Strategic Retail, a market research firm specializing in retail and shopper behavior, said the pet services industry was strong even during the recession.

She foresees continued growth as the perception of pets as family members only increases.

However, consumers can be finicky.

“The convenience and lower price aren’t enough to bring in a very valuable part of the family,” Liebmann said. “They are very aware of the quality of these services.”

Kelly said if the business continues to operate at its current rate, he expects revenue to be around $20 million by the end of the year. And in 2017, with another 10-15 stores planned, he expects that to double.

Wagly considers its clientele to be affluent households who treat their pets as members of the family and live active lives with them.

The company’s daycare options start at $24 per day, with overnight care starting at around $50 per night. A single full-day daycare pass costs $30 in Wagly.

At three other Bellevue-based pet service providers — Tesslan Dog Spa, A Pampered Pooch and Jax Dog Drop — a single, full-day pet sitting pass ranges from $25 to $36.

Wagly’s grooming, boarding and veterinary services also cater to cats, but the focus is on dogs.

Fox said offering full medical advice and always having instant medical help in an emergency brings “a lot of ease to the pet parent’s life.”

In addition to grooming, walking, and in-home pet sitting, Wagly offers chauffeur services: a dog handler comes to your home, picks up your dog for a day at the Pet Campus, and brings it back to the House.

Ultimately, Kelly and Brown believe the success of the business will come down to what’s best for the animal.

“You can do well by doing good,” Kelly said. “And it’s a great business where you can do good.”

Marie R. McCraw