Priya Sachdeva is now a relieved person, as after a week-long frantic search for ‘boarding’, lovely Sam, her two-year old Labrador, has found some likeminded friends to live with during her official tour to US. She has solved her biggest problem. It was very difficult for her to focus on work before zeroing in on a proper boarding house for her beloved animal companion. ‘I love him a lot and was worried about his health, food, residence, morning walk, bathing and grooming during my stay in US. But now he has become familiar with his friends in day boarding and I am thinking of leaving him at the centre from tomorrow onwards so that he could get friendly with the caretakers,’ she added with a sigh of relief and agony of parting with her darling canine partner. A senior manager at a multinational company, Sachdeva resides in Lajpat Nagar of South Delhi and was much worried for her pet before leaving for a month-long official tour to US.
‘The pet care centres have become a necessity for the modern society. They provide the best facilities and care when you are away from your home for any business, family or official trip,’ said Sudarshan, who runs a pet shop cum care centre in Defence Colony. ‘I have a bungalow in Greater Noida and transfer the dogs who are to be accommodated for longer duration to be taken care of properly,’ he added. Sudarshan recounts the facilities there, ranging from air-conditioned rooms to play grounds to round-the-clock electricity, keepers to take care and regular visits by veterinary doctors. He has a smaller facility in Defence Colony, where working couples leave their pets — dogs and cats — for day boarding at a charge of Rs 300 to Rs 500 per day per pet depending on their breeds. The smaller pets like Pug, Brussels Griffon, Papillon Dog, Volpino Italiano bear less charge, while bigger varieties like Labrador, German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Bulldog, Beauceron are charged more.
The pet care centres (they don’t like their pets be called dogs) are not limited to veterinary doctors and those who run pet sell and pedigree shops, but include people in the city who find it a lucrative next door business option. ‘I have a pet care centre on the top floor of my house and have a capacity to accommodate around a dozen pets. I also run day boarding for pets. The working couple or single persons leave their pets for the day and take them home in the evening,’ says Kuldeep Singh Chauhan, of Dwarka. When asked about any licence for running pet care centre, he says, ‘Who cares for a licence in the city? We are not aware of any such thing but just like to see the job getting done.’ Mushrooming of pet care centres, which are becoming as common as creches for children in the city, involve hiring of the services of veterinary doctors for vaccinations and regular visits for the medical check-ups. The charges for a Labrador are Rs 500 per day in air conditioned and Rs 400 per day in cooler-fitted rooms. ‘But if you put your pet for one month we will charge Rs 12,000 for air-conditioned and Rs 9,000 for non air-conditioned rooms,’ Chauhan adds.
The pet care centres are not only good business in this sector. The city also has grooming centres for dogs and cats, which charge around Rs 1,000 for a session of bath, eye cleaning, nail cutting, perfuming, removing extra hair etc. The spread of pet care centres is not confined to Delhi, but entrepreneurs in neighbouring Gurgaon, Faridabad, Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad are also investing in the fast growing urban business model and trying to attract maximum customers with lucrative facilities. ‘We have built a pet care centre in the 4.5-acre farm house with a play ground, swimming pool, round the clock light, transport facility, regular visit by doctor and three times walk by care takers,’ says Anju Singhal, partner at Kennel-1 pet care centre in Gurgaon. He charges Rs 375 per dog per day if it is docile and can live with other dogs, but Rs 600 per day if it is aggressive and requires separate room. ‘The pets, after some time, become friendly and live together,’ he claims.
But the owners of pet care centres in less privileged areas use neighbouring parks to walk the much-loved creatures. ‘I have a neighbouring park in East DMC area where the dogs go for walk and play with caretakers,’ says Ajay, who has a pet care centre atop his shop in Krishna Nagar, east Delhi. ‘I keep the dog in my house with me but if it is unable to adapt or is aggressive, I shift it to my other flat at Panchsheel Vihar,’ says Chetan Choudhary, a resident in Malviya Nagar of south Delhi.
‘We don’t have any rule to regulate pets or pet care centres. It’s completely a mutual agreement between customer and service provider,’ says D P Singh, senior veterinary officer of Delhi government. However, a directorate of such pet care centres is being run at Veterinary Hospital of Moti Bagh under the administration of directorate of animal husbandry of Delhi government. The veterinary department of the municipal corporations provide token to every dog after vaccination, which is the only government control on pets in the city but South Delhi Municipal Corporation has put its food forward to milk the mushrooming new age business.
‘We are drafting a policy to regulate these dog care breeding centres, which will include providing them health and trade licences. The draft policy was put out for suggestions and we are incorporating it for finalisation,’ says RBS Tyagi, director, Veterinary Department of South Delhi Municipal Corporation, which has maximum such centres in its area.
‘Presently, professionals are provided a certificate from Delhi Veterinary Council, but the mushrooming business needs proper regulation,’ says RT Sharma, a famous pet doctor associated with Friendicoes, who runs his own pet care centre in Vasant Kunj.