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Austin, Garfield Park, North Lawndale

PupStars, A Black-Owned Pet Care Business, Moves To The Near West Side, Attracting New West Side Clients

The shop, formerly based out of Ukrainian Village, offers grooming, walking, boarding and even in-home, overnight pet sitting for dogs and cats.

PupStars Operation Director Jabré Washington poses with a pup.
Pascal Sabino/Block Club Chicago
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NEAR WEST SIDE — There’s a new place for pet parents to pamper and board their cats and pooches on the Near West Side.

Local pet owners in nearby Garfield Park have been pleasantly surprised that PupStars Pet Care, which recently moved to 2337 W. Lake St., is black-owned and operated by folks living on the West Side.

“The foot traffic of African-American people coming here has really increased which honestly makes me happy, because of the fact of how much money we spend in other areas… it’s nice to see them come here,” said Jabré Washington, PupStars’ operations director.

The pet care shop offers a full range of services or dogs and cats including grooming, walking and boarding service, which starts at $50 a night. For pet parents who don’t want to board their beloved fur babies while they are away, PupStars has overnight pet sitters who can care for a pup at a client’s home.

Doberman dads and Maltese moms can also have their pooches picked up by a convenient shuttle service when they are boarding their pets.

Credit: Provided
The PupStars shuttle bus transports pets to and from clients homes.

Owner Tara Robertson opened PupStars as a simple dog-walking service operated out of her home in 2006. After adding a boarding service, the business eventually moved into a brick-and-mortar storefront at 635 N. Western Ave. in Ukrainian Village where PupStars was based for five years.

After steady growth, the business moved a half-mile away into its new Near West Side home in September. The location has plenty of space, is easily accessible by public transit and because it sits near one of the city’s industrial districts, there also aren’t residential neighbors to complain about the barking dogs.

Credit: Pascal Sabino/Block Club Chi
The outdoor play area at PupStars.

Washington said there are a lot of preconceived notions of what the pet care industry serves because of stereotypes about black folks and animals. One of the most common tropes would have people believe that black folks are fearful of dogs.

But pet care is a $72 billion industry, and Washington said she is happy that black folks are carving out a space for themselves in it. And as PetStars increases its footprint in Garfield Park, Washington said she is hopeful that they can prove tired old tropes about black folks being afraid of dogs wrong.

Since relocating to the Near West Side, Washington said PupStars is succeeding at building up a new local client base in the area. PupStars gained 16 new clients in October alone, Washington said.

Credit: Provided
PupStars owner Tara Robertson and Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) cut the ribbon at the grand opening of PupStars.

Yoga and CBD for dogs, too

The shop also sells pet supplies, treats and CBD products, which can help with pet anxiety and depression.

“CBD helps with a variety of things like inflammation, anxiety. It helps them get through thunderstorms, with aches and pains,” Washington said.

The shop plans to begin offering dog yoga, which would combine the pure joy of giving a pup a belly rub with the therapeutic benefits of yoga to help folks to “align your chakras and build inner peace,” Washington said.

Free events for folks to stop by the shop to learn about animal care like vaccinations, food options, and how to choose the right pet are also in the works.

Another pet boarding business, Puppy Playday, is slated to open nearby at 2520 W. Madison St. but the owners could not be reached.

Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.

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