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Pet Issue

Steep rent increases hound the city’s doggy-day-care industry.

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The proliferation of high-end pet-gift shops, newly renovated dog runs, and glamorous Us Weekly appearances by pup-toting celebs makes this a seeming golden age for city dogs. But the pet-pampering boom is running up against the real-estate boom. Two days before Christmas, the Dog Run, a Chelsea doggy-day-care spot featuring the only pooch pool in the city, was the latest casualty, buried by a rent increase from $8,500 to $14,000 a month. “It was pretty heartbreaking the last day,” says owner Stacy Alldredge, who had to lay off fifteen people.

A pet pool might seem decadent, but sometimes it’s the only viable exercise for dogs with arthritis or low mobility. According to Urbanhound.com, cities like Chicago and San Francisco have indoor swimming facilities. Now we don’t.

Several other high-profile Manhattan day-care centers and kennels, like Run Spot Run and Doggie-Do and Pussycats Too, have closed of late, and a couple of months ago, Skip’s Place on the Upper West Side was put down, too. “I think everyone thinks, ‘Boy, this dog business will be a lot of fun to be in,’ but the economics are really tough,” says Scott G. Smith, chief executive of Biscuits & Bath, which started as a dog-walking service on the Upper East Side in 1990 and now has six locations.

Alldredge, 40, will continue to train dogs. But as for a new day-care facility—with or without a pool—she may sit-and-stay. “I was pretty burned by this situation,” she says. “I need to step away from it and decide if I’ll do it again.”

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