Plans for 'dog hotel' as doggy daycare and grooming business expands

Jon Kay, director of Camp Tails Doggy Daycare, with his black Labrador Loki. He is planning to expand the business

Jon Kay, director of Camp Tails Doggy Daycare, with his black Labrador Loki. He is planning to expand the business - Credit: Camp Tails

The owner of a "premium doggy daycare" business is hoping to realise his dream project of a "one-stop hub for dogs" including a hotel.

Jon Kay was a quantity surveyor before embarking on a complete career change, inspired by his black Labrador Loki, and launched his Bury St Edmunds-based dog daycare company in 2016.

Fast forward five years and Camp Tails Doggy Daycare has grown from caring for five dogs in a week to averaging more than 260 a week, expanding to offer grooming in 2020.

Jon Kay is hoping to move Camp Tails from Moreton Hall to Eastern Way, which will allow the business to gain a dog hotel

Jon Kay is hoping to move Camp Tails from Moreton Hall to Eastern Way, which will allow the business to gain a dog hotel - Credit: Camp Tails

Faced with turning people away as they had reached capacity, Mr Kay submitted plans to move from the Boldero Road site on Moreton Hall to one on the Eastern Way industrial estate, also in the town.

As well as continuing to offer daycare and grooming, the proposal includes the addition of a "dog hotel," essentially upmarket kennels, which Mr Kay says there is real demand for.

Mr Kay, 38, from Elmswell, said: "We have people asking for it every week and it's something I have always wanted to do, but it's never been possible at the current site."

He described the coronavirus crisis as "like hitting a brick wall" and at the start, when the public were told to stay at home, "it literally stripped away all our customers".

Jon Kay is also behind a scheme to make Bury St Edmunds the most dog-friendly place in the country

Jon Kay is also behind a scheme to make Bury St Edmunds the most dog-friendly place in the country - Credit: Camp Tails

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Camp Tails has been able to build back up and is now seeing more dogs for daycare than before Covid due to more people getting dogs during the pandemic.

"It's an incredible turnaround," Mr Kay said, adding the business had managed to retain its whole staff team.

There are now 11 members of staff and this number will grow even more with the planned expansion.

Mr Kay described the plans as his "dream project of a one-stop hub for dogs".

Jon Kay said the doggy daycare is akin to a school for the pups, with socialisation, play and learning 

Jon Kay said the doggy daycare is akin to a school for the pups, with socialisation, play and learning - Credit: Camp Tails

The website says they are a "dedicated and trained" team of canine experts who know how to provide "the best environment for your dog," with a focus on socialisation, play and learning.

​"It's akin to a school for dogs," added Mr Kay, who is behind the #DogFriendlyBSE initiative with the aim of making Bury St Edmunds the most dog-friendly place in the country.

Currently, Camp Tails does not offer dog training, but Mr Kay said that, in the future, it could run in parallel with the daycare at the new site.

The site in Eastern Way would provide the potential to double capacity for daycare and triple it for grooming.

Jon Kay said they had more dogs on their books than ever before due to more people getting dogs during the pandemic

Jon Kay said they had more dogs on their books than ever before due to more people getting dogs during the pandemic - Credit: Camp Tails

Grooming was only launched last year amid the pandemic to help stabilise the business, but grew to capacity in less than eight months.

In their new home, they will look to add to their groom pod with a space dedicated inside for additional grooming tables.

The lease on the current site is due to expire next year.

The planning application for change of use of the site in Eastern Way has been submitted to West Suffolk Council.

For more information go to the Camp Tails website or Facebook page.

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