Bella Vista: A Pet Shop’s Struggles During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has not only affected people but also the lives of their pets and businesses that exist to support them.

Pit Stop HQ is a dog daycare and pet shop along the 9th Street Market that has stayed open throughout the pandemic, but it immediately lost business and hasn’t fully recovered.

“We went from having 60 dogs a day to maybe six dogs a day,” Sheehan Kovall, Pit Stop HQ owner, said. “And there were some weekends where we would only have two or three dogs.”

As time passed and COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, more dogs began to come into Pit Stop HQ.

Sheehan was glad to see the dogs return but noticed several animals had separation and social anxiety.

“As dogs slowly started coming back again, we saw a lot of separation anxiety,” Sheehan said. “And it was like a lot of them had forgotten how to be fun and social.”

Sheehan was not the only one who noticed the dogs’ new behavior.

It also became apparent to employees who said they came up with new ways to get the dogs to have fun and socialize with other dogs and people again. 

“I think identifying dogs that have social anxiety or any other behavioral issues helps a lot,” Jake Schuck, Pit Stop HQ employee, said. 

Since pets have been coming back to the daycare, Sheehan and his employees have focused on techniques to make the dogs feel comfortable again.

“We can maybe separate them into separate rooms to see if they can get along with each other,” Schuck said. 

Stil, Schuck said, social connection is important for the dogs and to help them work through their own pandemic-related anxieties.

“Spend a little bit more time with them to, you know, build that relationship with the dog,” Schuck said.

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