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Wagging Rights

The Wagly business concept aims to provide pet owners comprehensive services all at one campus.


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Shane Kelly and Alexander Petersen set out to achieve what seemed an elementary yet daunting goal—to simplify ownership for pet owners by combining everything from veterinary and hospital services to training and fitness to grooming and boarding and more into one location.

Enter Wagly, a fully integrated pet service operation founded by Petersen in October 2014, which has campuses in the Seattle and Orange County, Calif., areas, and soon will open in the Bay Area and points beyond. When Kelly joined Petersen in April 2015 as CEO, he already was a certified pet industry veteran, having served as CEO of Pet’s Choice, a Bellevue, Wash.-based 60-location animal hospital, and CEO of Best Friends Acquisition, parent company of Best Friends Pet Care, which has 38 pet care service centers and 15 veterinary hospitals across the U.S.

Today, Craig Susen, formerly the chief technical officer of Trupanion pet insurance provider and Wagly’s COO, and Peter Brown, DVM, Wagly’s chief veterinary officer, are carrying on with the mission.

“Our focus is to always do what is best for [owners’] pets,” Dr. Brown said. “Wagly aims to disrupt the pet care services industry by targeting the fast-growing ‘pet parent’ segment that lives an active family lifestyle. Pet lovers are consumed with their pet’s happiness and wellness, and seek a brand they can trust that offers the expert knowledge that fulfills all of their pet needs.”

All of which are good reasons pet needs should not be segmented, Brown added.

“What is best for the pet is to have all services working together synergistically,” he said. “An example of this is that boarding pets need to be medically monitored to improve the quality of their experience. All of our services are supervised by our veterinarians.”

Wagly’s brick-and-mortar design features a central lobby that connects all its services with visuals that showcase the hospital, day care and grooming spaces, which are present in all facilities. Services offered on site include day care, overnight boarding with luxury and standard suites, grooming, training, socialization, group classes and individual training. A small retail area serves customers’ immediate needs. All Wagly campuses include a full-service veterinary hospital.

Establishing an operation like Wagly isn’t exactly easy going.

“Creating a new startup business without acquisition certainly adds challenges,” Brown said. “Our strategy for marketing is a combination of community exposure, being the local pet care authority and digital. Pet parents’ bond to their current pet care provider is often very strong, and it’s critical that our main differentiator is that we are experts in the field.”

Wagly will concentrate on three markets for the next 18 months—Seattle and Northern and Southern California—and plans to expand east in 2019.

The main focus for Wagly, though, is what’s best for pets.

“What makes your pet happy?” Brown asked. “Physical health, mental stability and a purpose in life all contribute to happiness. Wagly is a place that brings happiness to your pet.”

 

Ellyce Rothrock is content director for Pet Product News.

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