Iowa City animal shelters and groomers see increased business

Iowa City animal-grooming businesses and animal shelters say they are seeing increased adoptions amid the coronavirus pandemic, despite mitigation measures.


Jenna Galligan

Groomer Brandi Reynolds works on Tuesday, July 7, 2020 at Hawk-Dog Grooming in Iowa City.

Cole Krutzfield, News Reporter

Increased mitigation measures and social-distancing restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has created extra time for people to do things they may not have otherwise — in this case, adopt a pet.

Chris Whitmore, animal services coordinator at the Iowa City Animal Shelter, noted an increase in the speed of adoptions since the coronavirus outbreak.

“We usually put animals up for adoption the day after they are spayed and they usually don’t last very long,” Whitmore said. “We also have seen a large number of our dogs get taken after being put up for adoption.”

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has not made operations at the animal shelter more difficult, she said it has implemented new safety measures.

“We post information about all of our animals online, then when someone chooses a specific animal they would like to see, [we] require people to email us online to set up a date and time that they can visit, and then we require them to wear a mask once they do visit, and then we usually try to have people decide whether they want to adopt that same day,” Whitmore said.

In the first few weeks after COVID-19 spread in the state, local pet-grooming businesses saw a decrease of customers, said Susanne Doerdelmann, owner of Hawk-Dog Grooming in Iowa City.

Once the initial wave of panic subsided, however, she said many more people were willing to come out to her business.

RELATED: Iowa City Animal Shelter helps pet owners take care of pets during COVID-19

Owner Susanne Doerdelmann grooms a dog on Tuesday, July 7, 2020 at Hawk-Dog Grooming in Iowa City. (Jenna Galligan)

“After about three weeks, we became overrun with business and now we have been constantly working and getting work all throughout the summer,” Doerdelmann said.

The animal-grooming business has operated much differently since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak and mitigation measures, she added.

“We have only been allowed to let one customer in at a time,” Doerdelmann said. “We also do not allow people to bring their animals inside to wait — they have to wait with their dogs in their car or somewhere else outside. We also try to keep social distancing in place whenever is possible. We have also made it easier to allow customers to let us know what they need and if we need to take extra precautions with someone.”

Christine Boland-Duarte owns and operates Suds ‘N Hugs, an animal grooming business which is operated out of a small van.

“I sanitize [the van] after grooming each animal,” Boland-Duarte said. “I also wear a mask when I interact with my customers.”

Boland-Duarte said she has seen increased business recently, which she attributed at least partially to the closure of traditional animal grooming shops.

“My business has increased since the pandemic began,” she said. “I’ve received many calls from people who are self-isolating, as well as from those who simply feel uncomfortable going to a grooming shop at this point in time.”