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Hounds Town USA’s Fresh Air Fund Program Provides Local Shelter Dogs With Valuable Socialization Opportunity

Thanks to a flexible business model, Hounds Town USA can help alleviate the workforce burden at local animal shelters.

By Cristina Merrill1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSORED 10:22PM 04/09/20

Pet care franchise Hounds Town USA was founded when former NYPD canine handler and commanding officer of the Nassau County Police Department Michael S. Gould cared for the dogs of first responders after the events of September 11, 2001. What evolved was an interactive doggy daycare facility where dogs of any breed could spend hours playing and socializing and not be cooped up in a kennel all day. Business boomed, and the brand began to franchise in 2008. 

Today, Hounds Town USA has 12 open locations across five states. In addition to doggy daycare, Hounds Town USA offers dog and cat boarding, dog grooming and a pet taxi service. The brand’s locations are also deeply involved in local philanthropic efforts through its charitable arm, Hounds Town Charities

One way Hounds Town USA gives back to its local communities is through its Fresh Air Fund. Through this program, Hounds Town USA locations foster dogs to alleviate the workforce burden on local animal shelters. This gives the dogs a valuable opportunity to have more freedom of movement and socialize with other dogs in the hopes of making them more adoptable. The timeframe they stay at Hounds Town USA is typically two weeks, but can go as long for 30 days. 

“We’ve fostered shelter dogs informally at some of our locations throughout the years, but when the Coronavirus came along we rolled out a formal program,” said Hounds Town USA President Jackie Bondanza. “At Hounds Town USA, we try to be a bridge to adoption. We help put the shelter dogs front and center to get them more exposure. Sometimes the video exposure we give the shelter dog on Facebook helps that dog get adopted. Customers will also see their dogs playing with shelter dogs and will tell their networks about the dog available for adoption.”

Hounds Town USA franchisees Anne McDonald and Colleen Tracey-Shaver operate the brand’s Garden City, New York location. They partnered with the nearby Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter to foster two dogs when they first opened in April of 2019. Today, they are fostering one dog from the same shelter, a 6-year-old pit bull mix named Leonidas who has a grey and brown brindle coat and weighs about 68 pounds. 

“He’s people-friendly, dog-friendly and kid-friendly,” Tracey-Shaver said. “He has been at the shelter since December 2018 after being left with caretakers and then never picked up.”

Tracey-Shaver and McDonald are also fostering five young white and black cats from the same shelter: Filbert, Floki, Marcus, Shrimp and Stanley. 

“They are very under-socialized and obviously need to be worked with in order to give them a better chance at being adopted,” Tracey-Shaver said. 

This is a hugely beneficial situation for the animals and for the shelter workers, especially as the Coronavirus pandemic continues. 

“Although the shelters are still running, some may be working with a smaller staff,” said Tracey-Shaver. “With us, dogs have more frequent play time, and socialize one on one with staff.” 

Such community-minded efforts prove why Hounds Town USA is such a valuable franchise opportunity. For one, the brand has been deemed an essential business, which means locations stay open even during times of crisis. Hounds Town USA, after all, was founded in a time of crisis, and the brand provides a valuable service to healthcare workers and others who might find themselves working long hours to help their communities. 

“Shortly after the Coronavirus outbreak began, we rolled out a systemwide special for healthcare workers and other first responders, just like we did for law enforcement when 9/11 hit,” Bondanza said. “We’re offering very discounted daycare and boarding services so we can help ease the burden for them and provide essential pet care for 12, 14 and even 16 hours a day. This has been a much appreciated effort. Several of our customers are nurses and social workers and they sometimes work seven days a week around the clock.” 

Such flexibility and willingness to help the community shows why Hounds Town USA is also a lucrative business opportunity. The way the brand’s leadership sees it, no one should need to navigate a complex pricing model to figure out how much it will cost to board their pet, and no franchisee should be charged ludicrous fees to build an over-the-top facility. 

“Hounds Town USA has always been a very accessible and affordable service,” Bondanza said. “We are not the brand that costs $1 million to build out or that charges $200 a night for a suite with a TV. We consider ourselves an accessible brand, so when the going gets tough and a crisis hits our country, we are still operating at 60, 70 and even 80% capacity. Our model was designed to handle events like Coronavirus.” 

Thanks to a flexible business model that can attract and accommodate customers in any type of economic climate and crisis, not to mention acting like a true partner to local animal shelters, Hounds Town USA proves why it’s a viable franchise opportunity and an asset to any community. 

The startup costs for a Hounds Town USA franchise range from $263,800 to $452,500. The franchise fee is $45,000. To learn more about franchising with Hounds Town USA, visit https://www.houndstownfranchise.com/

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