Cuyahoga Falls is unleashing free high-tech doghouses on Front Street downtown where residents and visitors can park their pooches while they shop and dine.
“This is not intended as an alternative to doggie day care,” said the city’s Neighborhood Excellence and Downtown Administrator Carrie Snyder on Wednesday.
The two DogSpot doghouses — each temperature-controlled and featuring a puppy cam — will allow for 90-minute stays.
But often a stay is “right around 15 minutes,” said Chelsea Brownridge, co-founder of pet-tech startup DogSpot, which is headquartered in Brooklyn, New York.
“DogSpot will allow residents and visitors who are exploring our downtown to safely secure their four-legged family members while they visit shops and restaurants,” Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Walters said in a news release issued Wednesday.
The city has scheduled a ribbon-cutting ceremony for 5 p.m. Aug. 2 at the Pavilion building at 2085 Front St. One of the DogSpot units will be next to the city-owned Pavilion; the other will be next to 2251 Front St., a multi-tenant building. (The doghouses were not onsite Wednesday.)
The Brooklyn DogSpot company, which launched in 2017, already has units outside storefronts and at travel plazas and other spots in more than 30 locations in several states. Ohio — a new state for DogSpot — is poised to get five units. Brownridge calls them "pet sanctuaries.”
In addition to the two planned for the Falls, three doghouses are planned for the Cleveland area: one at the Dave's Markets in Cleveland, one at the Dave's in Cleveland Heights and one at Shaker Town Center in Shaker Heights, according to the company.
Cuyahoga Falls will lease each of the two DogSpots for $500 per month, and offer use of the DogSpots to dog owners for free. Elsewhere, some DogSpots are set up so that dog owners pay 30 cents a minute.
The Falls will use money from its general fund to pay for leasing the doghouses, Snyder said.
The city will pay for the units through at least the end of the year; it could seek outside sponsors or move to having dog owners pay by their dogs' stays.
Walters heard about the DogSpots from someone who saw one, Snyder said, and thought they'd be a good fit. The city reopened Front Street downtown to vehicular traffic last summer, and new businesses have opened up in the area that previously was a failed pedestrian mall.
From New York, Brownridge said the units are far from typical doghouses.
Dog owners can use the DogSpot app to check on their pooch with the live puppy cam. Owners also use the app to unlock the door. Customer service reps can remotely check the units.
In case the power goes out, there’s an eight-hour battery backup. Between dog stays, the pods are cleaned with a motion-sensor UV light.
Um, so what happens if your pooch does his or her business in the unit?
Brownridge said that this hasn’t happened in the four years that DogSpots have been around. (She had several prototype units before the company officially started in 2017.)
But if a dog were to soil a unit, she said, this would be remotely detected, and the unit would become inaccessible until it’s cleaned by a city worker.
Reach Katie Byard at 330-996-3781 or firstname.lastname@example.org