- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 27, 2009

For city dwellers with limited bathroom space, PetMac LaundroMutt has all the hoses, tubs and tools a dog owner needs. A spa, this is not, though. Dog owners do the work themselves. PetMac LaundroMutt on Florida Avenue Northwest is the District’s only self-serve dog wash. It’s a concept that’s welcome. For many dog owners, clean fur is a necessity; a $75 groomers’ visit is a luxury and often unnecessary for short-haired breeds.

“She only needs a bath; she’s a Lab,” customer Carrie Hood says, rinsing shampoo from the scalp of her 8-year-old, 70-pound yellow Labrador retriever, Chloe. “We’re here every few weeks. She loves the water, but as soon as it involves soap, forget it.”

Ms. Hood says city living, tiny bathrooms and dogs do not mix. At the LaundroMutt, it is all there for dog owners: metal tubs, tub restraints, soaps and shampoos, towels and heavy-duty blow-dryers. Pet owners can upgrade to a special Furminator Treatment that uses a special shampoo and releasing solution and a tool to comb through the dog’s coat to release ready-to-shed fur. Sanitizing solution and aprons for the humans are provided, too.

“This can be really messy to do at home,” says LaundroMutt co-owner Lori Rolnick. “Dogs shake after they get wet, and it makes a huge mess.”

The LaundroMutt is open Thursdays through Sundays. Appointments are not necessary. Prices start at $13 for small dogs and vary according to dogs’ size and whether owners pick special treatments such as creme rinse or flea and tick treatment. Other extras include nail clippers, single-use toothbrushes and ear-and-eye wipes.

Neighborhood pet owners know ways to make bath time more cost effective. There are weekly specials, such as 50 percent off on Thursdays and frequent-wash plans. There also is a weekend special, such as half off for certain breeds or colors.

PetMac LaundroMutt’s small space is also a pet supply store that offers toys, leashes and natural pet foods. If Fido doesn’t enjoy the bath, maybe a couple of fresh-baked doggie cannoli or doggie doughnut holes will cheer him up.

The store and LaundroMutt are owned in part by Homeward Trails Animal Rescue. Homeward Trails’ founder and Executive Director Sue Bell says the partnership is a good way for the rescue group to increase its visibility while enhancing its revenue stream.

Homeward Trails helped 1,998 animals find a home in 2008, Ms. Bell says.

So when pet owners stop by for a dog toy or to bathe their pet, they are helping animal rescue efforts as well.

“It honestly gives people the ability to shop with a conscience,” Ms. Bell says.

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