Pantops Pet Salon
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Pantops Pet Salon & Spa
Charlottesville's Professional Dog Grooming

It's what we do -- it's all we do.

(434) 293-2424
Fax: (434) 293-8231
504 Pantops Center
Charlottesville, VA 22911

Archive for the 'News' Category

Grooming and the Economy

Thursday, November 27th, 2008 by Mike Cronk

I’ve been in business since 1975–that’s 33 years of dog grooming and consequently I’ve seen lots of ups and downs in the economy, but nothing like this. While business has been slower for most of this year (around a 5% decrease), August was especially bad. While it is generally slower due to last minute vacations and kids going back to school, it seemed like instead of a gradual leak, someone took the plug out of the tub…..and it was a big plug! Down about 25%! The reality of the market has really come home to roost, and I’m told it’ll be perching for another 1.5-2 years. OUCH!
I started to get concerned a couple of years ago when credit card purchases became the norm and home values experienced annual double digit increases. I dropped my Jeep Grand Cherokee like a hot potato and bought a Toyota Yaris (40 miles to the gallon). Now you can’t give away an SUV. Glad I saw that one coming! We’ve known for years that false increases in real estate appraisals couldn’t be sustained, and we were right. Now we are in a banking crisis that is being financed by loans from China and oil cartels, to go along with a near doubling of energy costs. And where is the money coming from for relief after hurricanes Gustof and Ike? How is California paying to fight all those wild fires?
When I tell people that grooming is taking a hit as well, they seem shocked. After all, “everyone just loves their dog!” Right. You should see the condition of some of the dogs that come in–the horror stories I could tell. Anyway, professional grooming is a luxury item that many of us need to budget for and it doesn’t quite measure up to buying groceries, paying the rent, or buying the gas to get to work. Notice I said “professional” grooming, the quality you get from paying a skilled artist. Just because you may not be able to afford our services doesn’t take you off the hook to take care of your dog. While I obviously can’t sustain my business unless most of you find us within your budget, reality says some of you may do more at home and others take more time between visits. Now is a good time to consider a shorter haircut that’ll last a bit longer. Please take a moment to read our article on Matting so you can understand what we need from you if you do wait longer between visits. Also read our Brushout articlewhich thoroughly describes our process and should give you some tips for maintaining your dog’s coat (and thus health and comfort) between visits.
So, imagine our customers who used to come in 4 times a year are now stretching it to 3, that’s still an annual loss of 25% in gross sales for us-without losing the customer. What are we doing about it? A couple of months ago I gave my employees a $2.00/hour raise to help cover the increase in gas prices so they could get to work – three of them live in Greene County. This resulted in a grooming price increase of between $2 and $4 on most services. Having done that, my next objective was to streamline the business without sacrificing quality. I lost a groomer to pregnancy and she won’t be replaced. Jenna, who was my full time office manager, now lives in Savannah, Georgia. While she still works online for me, it’s only for 5 hours per week. Her receptionist and office duties have reverted back to me. I also had a part-time person close in the afternoons who I let go so I’ve taken on that job as well. I had my windows cleaned and floor waxed twice a month by outside help–a great service that adds real shine to the shop but not a necessity. I’m now taking on that cleaning too. You’ll notice that bandanas, which have increased in price by 30%, are no longer free. While not essential to grooming, they are a nice touch for some and will be available at cost – $1.00. What won’t be changed is our effort to provide quality service and professionalism.
My son Michael, owner of The Pet Motel and Salon, questioned whether we should lower prices to see if we could increase business, but I’m not convinced that we can. My employees and I are just like everyone else. We find ourselves needing more money to meet expenses, not less. And you can bet that the business needs it too–just like bandanas, our supplies are getting more expensive across the board and there are some we just can’t do without.
So there you have it. The economy is in crisis, predicted to get worse and we are all going to have to adjust to stretching our dollars to cover higher costs. Keep in mind, while grooming certainly makes your dog look good, it’s more importantly about cleanliness, comfort and health. Try to keep us in your budget, but if you can’t don’t let your dog suffer. Frequent brushing and an occasional bath can go a long way.

The Pit Bull Controversy

Thursday, August 14th, 2008 by Mike Cronk

For years now there has been an ongoing controversy involving the Pit Bull breed. Our local SPCA and some Pit Bull owners claim that the breed is misunderstood so they are working to change the public’s negative perception of these dogs. Well, if it were only so simple. Perhaps in this case, “where there is smoke, there is fire.” The Pit Bull’s reputation has a basis in reality so if you are looking to own one, take extra care with your research so you know exactly what you are in for and whether you can handle it.

We know that most of our dog breeds were developed to suit their working relationships with man from herding and retrieving to rescuing. The Pit Bull, however, was bred to be a fighter. The breed originated in England in the 1800s with the Black and Tan Terrier. This breed was used to entertain humans by killing rats in a pit–not my idea of a good time, but there you have it. Evidently, this wasn’t enough excitement for the audience so they crossed the terrier with the Bulldog to create what we know today as the Staffordshire terrier or Pit Bull. Instead of fighting rats, these dogs were set against each other in the pit, hence their name. When you look into getting a Pit Bull, understand that they were originally bred to fight one another to the death for human entertainment. In the pit, only the strongest survived and subsequently were bred to pass on the traits which had ensured that they killed their opponents.

Read our “Nature vs. Nurture” article in the Library section of our website and you’ll see that both play an important role in your dog’s character. Training and socialization, although essential, aren’t going to give a Pit Bull the manners of a Golden Retriever. Pit lovers that want their dogs accepted by society must work to clean up the breeding in addition to being responsible owners. Just as we can breed dogs to increase their sense of smell for hunting, we can also breed them to adjust their character. There were originally strains of aggression in the Great Dane, but breeders have selectively matched the most docile members of the breed to eventually produce a more gentle dog. Aggressive tendencies can be bred out of the Pit Bull but potential owners should be aware that this is a process–after years of selectively breeding Pits to fight, it’s going to take some time to change them.

While breeders work to change the Pit, there will be some differing genetic lines. This is common for working dogs including the Labrador Retriever. You have one line of dogs that have been bred for their game retrieving instincts while others are bred as companion dogs or show dogs who would make lousy hunters. With the Pit Bull, you still have the lines that go back to their fighting roots. Although dog fighting is outlawed, there are plenty of backyard breeders who still fight dogs (hello, Michael Vick) and of course people who just want to be seen with a “bad ass dog.” But there are other breeders who are working to civilize the breed by breeding out that violence.

It’s not quite time to throw caution to the wind. The most recent available statistics we could find show that violence from Pit Bulls is still at the top of the charts. In 2000, the Center for Disease Control published the following study; between 1979 and 1998, one third of all fatal dog attacks were caused by Pit Bull types. The highest (118) were by Pit Bulls, the second highest (67) by Rottweillers. The Pits we see at the Pet Salon have been friendly but often stubborn and sometimes untrained and aggressive toward other dogs. My son Michael, who owns the Pet Salon, stopped boarding them because they were destructive to the kennels and impervious to pain–they would chew on the chain link until their mouths bled.

Be aware that owning a Pit will limit your choices if you need to move. Based on the dog’s violent history, many apartments will not allow Pits in order to protect the safety of other tenants. The following countries have created laws restricting or outlawing Pit Bull ownership: Ontario, Winnipeg and Manitoba Canada, Australia, France, Norway, Singapore, United Kingdom, Denmark, New Zealand, Serbia and Italy. In the United States, 16 cities have active laws governing Pit Bull ownership. 7 cities are currently studying proposals. Insurance companies like Allstate are reluctant to insure homeowners who have Pit Bulls which isn’t a surprise when the Insurance Information Institute reports that dog bites accounted for one-quarter of all claims on homeowner’s insurance.

When looking to get a Pit, be aware of their history and their current character. Every dog breed involves some research before you make a final decision but even more caution should be taken when a breed has a track record of violence. Be sure to see the parents and know which stock your dog is coming from–you want to look for a long line of conscientious breeding. You should be prepared to offer a good home and some serious training. Also keep in mind that caution needs to be exercised when the Pit is around other breeds. Pits adopted from the SPCA should be on a trial basis and only if you are willing and able to spend the time necessary to train and socialize them.

Virginia Registry of Dangerous Dogs and their Owners

Thursday, January 18th, 2007 by Jenna

Archived from “The Paw Report:”  Issue #7, January 

The “Richmond Times-Dispatch” featured an article describing the development of an Internet-based registry of dangerous dogs modeled after Virginia’s sex-offender registry.  The legislature was organized after a woman and her Shih Tzu were fatally mauled in their own yard by the neighbor’s pit bulls.  This case became the first in Virginia in which an owner was convicted of involuntary manslaughter due to the actions of their dog.

The registry is still in progress but is planned to be online by July 1st.  It should include photos of the dogs as well as names and addresses of owners.  Data is already being collected on local dogs via questionnaires sent by the state veterinarian’s office.  So far, 89 localities have reported a total of 292 dangerous dogs.  Virginia law includes dangerous dogs not by breed, but only by those who have a history of violent incidents.

In addition to this legislature, it is now considered by law to be a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, when an owner’s dog seriously injures someone.
The aim of this registry is to keep people aware of any dangers in their community as well as to remind owners of dangerous dogs to take measures to prevent further injuries.

Pet Owner and Neighbor Responsibilities

Monday, August 14th, 2006 by Mike Cronk

Archived from “The Paw Report:”  Issue #1, July 

We’re going to take a moment here to discuss our feelings on a recent incident you may have already heard about in “The Hook” or other nearby newspapers. For those of you who don’t know, a cat strayed into a man’s yard and not knowing whose cat it was (or whether it might be feral) the man shot the cat.

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