“My goal is to be that one-stop shop where you can do anything or get anything you need for your pets,” says Renee Rizzi, owner of the new Highland Pet Resort, Inc. at 133 Bailey’s Gap Road in Highland. The 7,300-square-foot facility on ten acres of land — formerly an apple orchard — offers pet owners the full range of pet services, from doggie daycare and boarding to dog grooming and training. A pet taxi and in-home services are available as well, and future plans include building a separate facility on site to rent to a veterinarian.
The Highland Pet Resort lives up to the luxury implied in its name, with an impressive attention to detail in its construction, according to one of its first customers. Rizzi has been planning this venture for years while operating a successful pet-sitting business in Highland, sketching out designs in her spare time envisioning exactly how such a place should be constructed. She didn’t have to look far to find an expert contractor: her dad, Vincent Rizzi Jr., is principal of Vr Construction & Management Corp. in Highland. And she worked with local engineer Lou DuBois, who could take her ideas and turn them into reality, tweaking and adding all that’s necessary when one does construction.
Now the state-of-the-art facility is open, and features 31 individual rooms to board dogs and cats. Each has their own space and none are kept in cages (there is hedgehog enclosure available, though). There is also space to take in pet birds and small animals like guinea pigs, hamsters or even reptiles, an unusual service for a boarding operation to offer. In the near future, Renee says, they plan to install an indoor above-ground pool for dogs to play in or for pet therapy. Animals can be boarded for as short a stay as overnight or for several weeks at a time. (One cat has already been at the pet resort for a month, since it opened.)
Dog grooming services will be offered by Stephanie Riley’s “Head Over Paws,” an already existing business which now rents out space within the pet resort. Charlie Jackson, a Highland-based former police K9 handler, will conduct six-week sessions of dog obedience classes held once a week at a basic and intermediate level as well as a puppy obedience class for dogs under a year old. Jackson is certified by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as a Canine Good Citizen evaluator and dogs can earn their certificate at the pet resort by passing a test.
Doggie daycare at the site is for dogs that are dropped off in the morning and picked up by dinner time. They each get their own space to hang out in while they’re there, and then multiple times during the day they’re gathered together for group play sessions, says Renee.
The retail shop sells a variety of dog and cat toys, leashes and collars, clothes and necessities like pet-friendly ice melt crystals safe for use around animals. Within a few weeks there will be several lines of dog and cat food available and homemade pet treats from Juliet’s Kitchen.
And the Highland Pet Resort offers two different in-home services for pets, which is where Renee’s fiancé, Chris Heminway comes in. He will operate the pet taxi for pet owners who don’t have time to bring their pet in to the resort; perhaps they want to board their pet while they’re away but they’re leaving very early in the morning to catch a flight at the airport. Or he can bring an animal home again after boarding to someone who has been away. Heminway can also, if customers live within a 30-minute or so radius of Highland, make up to two visits per day to someone’s home for dog-walking or to feed a cat too skittish, for example, to come stay at the resort.
Renee Rizzi is a native of Highland and lifelong resident. Opening her own business may just be in her DNA; in addition to her father owning his own construction firm and her mom, Eva, a hair styling business, her grandfather has owned and operated Rizzi Jewelers in the hamlet of Highland for more than 65 years.
The Highland Pet Resort, Inc. at 133 Bailey’s Gap Road is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. More information is available at (845) 834-3833 or on their Facebook page, “Highland Pet Resort.”