By Cecilia Chan, GSN Managing Editor
An overnight boarding and daycare that promises to treat small dogs like princes or princesses is coming to Gilbert.
The Gilbert Planning Commission last week granted a conditional use permit for Happy Pets Royal Palace to set up shop at the 7-acre Elliot Ranch Plaza shopping center on the northeast corner of Val Vista Drive and Elliot Road.
“We will be the only facility in Arizona that takes and caters to teacup-size or toy-size dogs,” said owner Linda Huss, a Mesa resident. “This is for dogs so spoiled that their feet effectively never touch the ground because they are so pampered.”
Plans are to open for business Oct. 22 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled for Nov. 10, according to Huss.
She has a location in Mesa, now in its fifth year, and a new location opening in Chandler by Thanksgiving. Those two locations cater to all sizes of canines, Huss said.
The Gilbert location will only take full-grown dogs weighing less than 20 pounds, such as Shih Tzu, Miniature Dachshund and Maltese.
“We won’t be taking dogs that are larger than 20 pounds in adult weight,” Huss said. “Little toy breeds are unique in their own little world and are so adorable when they can play together in their own element. That is why we are bringing this to Gilbert.”
The 1,200-square-foot building will include a lobby, a play/slumber area, a meal-prep area and a bathing or cleaning area.
Pet owners will be able to download an app to watch their fur babies at play or sleep on live webcams.
Huss is building a castle measuring about 10 feet wide, 8 feet high and 6 feet deep, complete with a royal highness chair for the dogs to play with.
“It’s going to be awesome,” she said.
Huss said she and her husband own two Newfoundland dogs, a Bernese Mountain dog, an Old English Sheepdog, a Belgian Shepherd and a wolf dog.
“Those are our dogs,” she said. “And then we have four Long-Haired Chihuahuas, which are smaller than our cat. So, they are not really dogs. They are tiny, little babies.”
Happy Pets also will have an indoor garden atrium with live plants and sod, which will serve as a potty area for the pups.
All animal waste will be taken care of immediately with fecal matter doublebagged and placed in a lid-tight Dumpster outside, according to a staff report.
All dog-related activities and services will take place inside the building with staff supervision, 24/7, according to planner Josh Rogers.
There will be no outdoor dog runs or exercise areas constructed at the site and no outdoor dog walking will take place.
Happy Pets Royal Palace expects to have 25 to 35 dogs a day at the facility and upwards of 35 to 45 a day during the holidays. Business hours will be 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.
The location faces Val Vista Drive and is sandwiched between a gym and a mattress store.
According to staff, the nearest homes are between 120 and 150 feet away with landscaping to act as a buffer.
Commissioner Brian Johns asked for the distance the facility was to a restaurant.
Under town code because the facility is indoors the requirement is that it be 25 feet from a property line, Rogers said.
Happy Pets is at least 50 feet from the closest restaurant, which is Rosati’s Pizza at the center, he added.
“I think in Phoenix it’s 150 feet from a restaurant,” Johns said.
Chairman Brian Andersen asked if there was any neighbor opposition to the proposal, and Rogers said he had not received any feedback from the public.
Commissioner Greg Froehlich was concerned about possible odor and asked how the facility was going to be cleaned.
“My only concern is they are not spraying the place out and getting it outside,” he said.
Huss said she has an interior wet/dry system that will clean the facility.
“Welcome to town,” said Andersen, who frequents the shopping center and noted it is often vacant. “I hope you are successful there.”
Commissioners voted 6-0 to approve the permit.
Staff also recommended approval based on four findings, including the use will not be detrimental to the health, safety or general welfare of people living or working in the vicinity.
The smooth passage for Happy Pets is unlike that experienced by another dog-care facility that encountered opposition from residents who worried about potential loud barking.
Although the Planning Commission granted Dogtopia a conditional use permit for a doggie- day care center at Gilbert Fiesta shopping center, the decision was appealed to the Town Council. The Council after hearing from residents voted Aug. 2 to uphold the panel’s decision.