Hounds Town USA: Where Dogs Can Be Dogs!
By Kathy Hosler
Photos provided by Hounds Town USA
Mike was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up to be a police officer. “In 1982 the department wanted to develop a K–9 program,” said Mike. “From that time on, my life involved and evolved around dogs and dog management.”
Mike became a police lieutenant and commanded the Nassau County K–9 unit. Simultaneously, he was in the Navy Reserves Canine Military program. When it came time for him to retire from the Nassau Police Department, he knew that he wanted to continue to do something with dogs.
“I had a scent detection business where I trained narcotic detection and explosive and cadaver dogs—and that’s the direction I thought I would be going in,” Mike says. “I rented a building on Long Island with that plan in mind…then 911 happened.”
“In 2001, I was deployed to work Search and Rescue at Ground Zero. Many of the rescue workers (firemen, military, and medical people) involved in the recovery efforts were working twenty hours a day, and they needed somewhere to keep their own dogs.”
Mike opened his doors to the rescue workers’ dogs. Not long after, he began to take in private peoples’ pets, and Hounds Town USA came into being. “Since then, we have cared for almost one million dogs,” says Mike proudly.
What is the secret to Hounds Town USA’s success? They focus on the needs of the dogs, and everything they do is based on the safety of the pets in their care.
“Dogs are pack animals,” Mike says. “Most people keep their dogs separated and don’t let them interact with each other. The primary service we provide is interactive doggie daycare. It’s the core business at all of our locations.”
“What separates us from other well–intentioned pet care providers,” Mike says, “is our ability to deeply understand pack structure and dynamics, how the dog brain works, and what their needs are.”
Dogs aren’t the only ones who can vacation at Hounds Town USA. Cats can stay in the spacious, multi–level condos at the PURRRington cat villas. They do not interact with the dogs, but can socialize with other felines if they desire.
The services that Hounds Town USA provides are: interactive daycare, overnight boarding of dogs and cats, grooming, retail sales, and a pet taxi service. Their business model is based on serving the pets’ needs first. Second to that is pleasing the owners. Hounds Town has beautiful facilities and they offer many accouterments that appeal to owners, such as providing luxury townhouses or a private suite for the overnight boarders, and offering pampering spa services in addition to dog and cat grooming at the Hounds Town Day Spa. And, if a pooch or kitty needs a lift, they offer door–to–door pet taxi service.
Overnight guests don’t just stay in their rooms 24/7. During the day they participate in the interactive daycare and receive breakfast, dinner and a mid–day nap in their rooms.
“Our staff is the backbone of our business,” says Mike. “It is critical that we select and train them properly. Each person goes through our program, which includes becoming certified in canine CPR, before they come on as a team member. We look for positive, passionate animal people who are not afraid to work. Some of our employees, who started out as pooper scoopers, have now become franchise owners.”
“I started my relationship with Hounds Town as a doggie daycare customer,” says Jackie Bondanza, the president of Hounds Town USA. “Now, I am busy in our corporate office every day and I head up our franchise program. We have nine locations at the present time, with more opening soon.”
Their website, www.houndstownusa.com, is their primary source of marketing. It answers any questions someone might have about the facilities, such as their hours, rates, locations and services. You can even experience a ‘pooch’s eye view’ of a day at Hounds Town USA.
“The majority of our customers come from word of mouth, social media or a Google search,” says Jackie. “And, our social media pages are really important. Every location posts pictures daily. People love them!”
“Our goal is always to connect with the customer as much as possible on social media. It allows them to see what goes on with their dog throughout the day,” Jackie continues. “And, we focus on training our franchisees on how to appropriately position themselves as a fun and engaging brand on social media.”
Five times a year, their newsletter, the HoundsTown Herald, is emailed to all of their clients. Every edition has a blanket letter from Mike, information about their charity programs, including any dogs up for adoption and any specials they are running. Each facility contributes news for its location and distributes a newsletter that is tailored to its clients.
Giving back is essential to Mike, Jackie and the rest of the Hounds Town family. They have a 501c3 charity, and they plan and complete many projects through it. One is the Fresh Air Fund, where dogs from local shelters are invited to come and participate in their daycare activities. It gives them the opportunity to socialize and improve behavior, get out of the shelter and make them more adoptable.
“We work really closely with shelters and rescues in our areas and provide discounted boarding and daycare services to some of them,” says Jackie. “It really increases the dogs’ chances of getting a forever home.”
“We recently did a Handcuffs to Healing program,” Says Mike. “It was a six–week program in conjunction with our local corrections facility where we took dogs from the shelter and paired them with low-risk inmates, and the inmates trained the dogs. At the end of the program, all of the dogs ended up getting adopted.”
“At Hounds Town USA, dogs get to be dogs. They can hump, jump, and dump whenever they want,” Mike says with a hearty laugh. “Whether they are here for one day or two weeks, it’s the best ‘pupcation’ a dog could wish for!”