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Pet boarding business stays open during pandemic to help first responders

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – We love our pets dearly and treat them as members of the family. We won’t leave them with just anyone.

That’s why one pet boarding business stayed open during the coronavirus pandemic. The husband and wife team that own Dogtopia in San Marco truly understand what it’s like to go to work when others are running the other way.

Ali Kasraeian is a doctor and hasn’t been able to work from home during the pandemic.

That’s part of the reason the Kasraeians opened the business less than a mile from Baptist Health hospital two years ago. They wanted to accommodate health care workers who work long shifts.

But COVID-19 changed the game and business is down 70%, they said.

But they decided to stay open to help first responders who wouldn’t be able to have a pet if they didn’t have a place to board them.

Kevin Hodges is a lieutenant with Jacksonville Fire and Rescue and his dog, Holmes, is truly part of the family. But he said it wouldn’t be impossible to keep his friend if places like Dogtopia weren’t open during the COVID storm.

“They make it possible for firemen like myself to have dogs. Without them doing what they do we probably couldn’t have a dog so they’re really big for us,” says Hodges.

Addie Kasraeian is part owner and she said her customers say a lot of the pet boarding businesses had to temporarily shut down. While business is down, it was still important that they stay open, she said. It isn’t just for first responders but for anyone who needs to give their pet a safe play date.

“It’s hard to have a teleconference when your dog is doing ‘zoomies’ in the background or your dog is barking in the background. They just love it they have a great time they get to play with your friends and get all the energy out and then when you’re tired they are tired," Kasraeian said.

Dogtopia has cameras so that you can check in on your pet to make sure it’s doing well. They’re also open weekends and are committed to staying open to make sure our first responders don’t have to worry about their furry friends.


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