A novel new service is attracting attention - and awards - in Strasbourg: a daycare centre for dogs which looks after tourists’ pets while they go sight-seeing, shopping or out for a meal.
PatchGuard takes in dogs for up to seven hours with prices ranging from €9 for one hour, €25 for three hours and €55 for seven hours.
Laetitia Lacote, 43, had the inspiration for the idea three years ago when on holiday with her friends and her Australian Shepherd, Patch.
“The vacation was awful,” she said. “We couldn’t go to the beach with our friends, we couldn’t go out to eat together as I didn’t want to leave him in the accommodation because I didn’t know if he would bark the whole evening or if he would destroy something.”
As a result she decided to open a centre where tourists can leave their dogs in good hands while they visit places where dogs are not allowed.
Mrs Lacote initially carried out a trial this summer in Mulhouse where she looked after some 125 dogs, most of which belonged to tourists, and gathered feedback from the owners on how to meet their needs and improve her services.
As well as pet sitting dogs in Mulhouse on Saturdays, she now also runs a centre in Petit France, Strasbourg near the Musée d'art moderne, which opened on November 26.
The dogs go on walks, play with each other and receive plenty of attention, she said.
“I imagine everything how I would do it for me and my dog, which would be only the best. I really just look out for their welfare,” she said.
She explained that the dogs do stay in cages for short periods of time to help her manage several dogs at a time but if they get anxious, she takes them on a walk or lets them out to play.
The centre is currently running a three-month trial in Strasbourg but Mrs Lacote hopes it will become permanent and that she can expand the business perhaps internationally.
“I think lots of tourist sites need something like this – dogs are forbidden from malls, shops, restaurants, museums. I really want to help people to be able to travel with their dogs and not leave them in their cars. I want to avoid dogs being abandoned and help favour their welfare,” she said.
Mrs Lacote has received various awards for her work, including Alsace’s Trophée du Tourisme, 1st place in the YAGO Entrepreneurial Talents competition (Innovative Products and Services category) and the CEO Petfriendly Award 2022.
To be admitted into PatchGuard’s care, all dogs must be fully vaccinated and female dogs cannot be in heat.
Owners must have a civil liability insurance policy, be in possession of the dog’s up-to-date health record and present their dog’s chip number. They must also provide their phone number, proof of identity and the dog’s I-CAD registration number.