Pet boarding firm struggling as islanders are staying put

MANY islanders seems to be staying at home this summer, judging by bookings for a local pet boarding facility being well below expectations.

Four Paws Country Pet Hotel’s staff and family. The business have seen a downturn in numbers as people are not choosing to travel. (Picture by Cassidy Jones, 29787200)
Four Paws Country Pet Hotel’s staff and family. The business have seen a downturn in numbers as people are not choosing to travel. (Picture by Cassidy Jones, 29787200)

While the number of hire cars on roads and busy hotels have helped indicate how many visitors are coming into the island, it has been harder to determine how many islanders have been going away on holiday this summer.

If pet boarding is any indication, many are staying put.

Four Paws Pet Hotel owner Jessica Valpied has 48 pens for dogs and 21 for cats, which can house up to three of each animal from the same household.

She said her business was 25-30% down for dog kennelling and about 50% for cats compared to summer 2018 and she attributed this to people still being reluctant to go away for any length of time.

‘It has definitely been a rollercoaster.

‘When the borders were opened I expected the phones to be ringing a lot more than they are.

‘A lot of people are going away locally for shorter periods and I have also had a lot of bookings that have then been cancelled.

‘It is so up and down and school holidays are usually a good time for us but this July is quieter.

‘When we went to the bank for a loan, my partner Chris and I thought it is a good, reliable business because everyone travels, and then – boom.’

Ms Valpied said she was most concerned that her staff – four full-time boarding staff, two dog groomers and a kennel hand – continued to be paid.

‘We worked with a skeleton staff during lockdown housing key worker pets and we used the States payment scheme for those staff not working. I have been using our savings to pay our amazing staff even though it is quiet.

‘We love our job and we are here for the animals and our amazing customers. I am a positive person so I think “onwards and upwards”.

‘We are a happy work family and our customers are family too. I know we will get through this and I urge everyone to get vaccinated.’

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