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Business name: Cleaner Tails
Address: 32 Stony Hill Road (lower level), Bethel
Owners: Stephen Kaponyas and Tamara Cabrero
Business background: If dogs could talk, chances are they would tell their owners it is time to go to Cleaner Tails.
With a slogan that reads “A place for dogs” on all its business cards, Cleaner Tails offers everything a canine and their two-legged companion could want, from Do-It-Yourself (DIY) dog washes to a grooming area to a fully stocked pet supply section.
Stephen Kaponyas and Tamara Cabrero officially opened Cleaner Tails on August 12, after doing some much-needed renovations to the space. Having formerly housed similar businesses in the building over the last ten years, the area just needed their personal touch of new flooring and paint, as well as some odor control.
For the young couple, Cleaner Tails may be their first business, but both have experience in retail management and a drive to make a difference in the lives of dogs.
“All throughout high school and college I worked at a veterinary’s office in New York. I also volunteered at an animal shelter from 14 to 21 [years old],” Mr Kaponyas said.
Ultimately, though, it was their mutual compassion for dogs — the couple own three dogs of their own — that brought them to the decision to open Cleaner Tails.
“We specifically wanted to open a business like this because of how much we love our dogs,” Mr Kaponyas said.
Ms Cabrero agreed, adding that getting to do a profession like they are now is “living the dream” in her eyes.
Business focus: From shelter to show dogs, Cleaner Tails welcomes all types of dogs to enjoy the many services it has available.
For the DIY washing, there are six elevated bathing stations, positioned at all different levels, lined up in the back of the store. The variety helps accommodate for the height of every owner and the size of their canine companion for maximum comfort and efficiency.
The washing area also comes equipped with the necessary tools, like all-natural shampoo, aprons, ear and eye cleaner, brushes, towels, and dryers.
Those coming in for the first time, who may need assistance, can be assured there is always someone onsite to help answer any questions.
Cleaner Tails also has a full service, onsite grooming option where dogs can be transformed into a pampered pooch.
“We have a very talented groomer,” Mr Kaponyas said. “We will wash your dog, clip their nails, and give them haircuts based on how you want it done.”
Having gone through a negative grooming experience with his own dogs in the past at other places, he says that Cleaner Tails is particularly sensitive to the needs of the dogs that come in.
As a result, Cleaner Tails’ grooming area has a large window to allow others to see in and does not crate dogs for hours on end, as is typical at other facilities. Instead, the shop offers a two- to three-hour drop-off period for dogs that need to be groomed and while the dog is waiting, it can play in the gated doggie area.
The gated section is particularly beneficial for customers looking to bring in multiple dogs to be bathed in one trip but can only wash one at a time.
Next to the play area is the retail section of the store, where there is a variety of food, treats, and toys for sale. Right now, there are some holiday-themed items from the Montana-based pet company West Paw.
Ms Cabrero says the toys are practically indestructible and if they do by chance get destroyed, West Paw will refund the customer’s money.
Another feature that dogs go ga-ga over is Cleaner Tail’s raw bar filled with freeze-dried food.
“Dogs go absolutely nuts over it,” Ms Cabrero said. “We actually had to change locations because we had it on a lower level and all the [dogs] were shoplifting.”
Important to know: Mr Kaponyas and Ms Cabrero strive to make sure every dog that comes in to Cleaner Tails has a positive experience.
To extinguish a dog’s nerves of going to a new place, Ms Cabrero recommends that owners bring in their dogs before a bath or grooming appointment to get the dog more comfortable and familiar with the area.
“We want to provide a fun, safe place where you can bring your pet and not think twice about anything,” Mr Kaponyas said.
With the safety of dogs always in mind, Cleaner Tails only uses veterinarian-approved cleaners, without bleach, that can kill diseases like parvo.
“It’s a bit more expensive, but it’s worth it because it gives us peace of mind,” Mr Kaponyas said.
Also, when opening Cleaner Tail, both owners knew they wanted to use their business to help animals in need.
“We have a partnership with Blue Path, which is a service that trains golden retrievers and Labradors for autistic children. We donate a dollar from every [DIY] dog bath to them,” Mr Kaponyas said.
Not only that, but when the Danbury shelter Tails of Courage was having an adoption event, Cleaner Tails volunteered to clean five dogs to help them find their forever home.
Mr Kaponyas said, “That makes me proud, because that’s what I really wanted us to do when we opened this place.”
Seasonal specials: Currently, Cleaner Tails has an offer where after buying ten baths the eleventh is free, as well as after buying ten bags of dog food the eleventh is free.
Winter Hours: Monday through Saturday, from 10 am to 7 pm, and Sunday, from 11 am to 5 pm.