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An NFL Panther Runs the Pet Care Field

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- With the pet industry booming, there are a lot of ways to take advantage of the spending habits of pet owners, and so-called luxury dog day care centers are leading the trend. There is a huge market for these at times eccentric services.

The Spot Experience is separating itself from the pack. The New York City business offers daily care for dogs only and offers an outside area for dogs to run around, cage-free overnight boarding, grooming, behavioral training sessions and dog-walking services. There are also concierges who will schedule vet appointments for owners, pet hair dye jobs and even shuttle services to get the dog from the home to the day care center.

There are a lot of ways to take advantage of the spending habits of pet owners, and so-called luxury dog day care centers are at the top of the list.

Ex-NFL player Mitch Marrow opened Spot a year ago, inspired by his own difficulties finding reliable care for his two large dogs (a St. Bernard and a Bullmastiff). Marrow's days in the NFL were short after being drafted to the Carolina Panthers. He left just a year later in 1999 after a serious back injury and became a hedge fund manager, but his long workdays and frequent travel and left his two dogs under-attended.

"I lived in [New York City]. I'm working 13 to 14 hours a day. I was dying to find a place to bring these dogs to let them socialize with peace of mind when I leave them. I went to an array of dog day care places. I could not comfortably leave my dogs with them," says Marrow, who now lives in Westchester with his wife and children.

"There was no training -- mostly minimum-wage employees hired to stand in a room with sometimes 30 to 40 dogs. The dogs jockey for alpha position, they start to fight, they're scared and stressed and people picked them up at the end of the day and the dog is tired," but not for a good reason, Marrow says.

Marrow believed he could do it better. Using his experience and contacts in the hedge fund world, Marrow, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, was able to cull a group of willing investors and trusted business advisers.

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