New Raleigh, NC Dog Daycare Franchise is a Family Affair!
Raleigh, NC is getting a new Hounds Town USA dog daycare franchise location, thanks to sisters Jenny Lasker and Andi Bradford. Together with their mother, Louise Lasker, as well as Jenny’s partner Stacey Pierce, the tight-knit, dog-loving family will be joining the ranks of fellow Raleigh Hounds Town-owning family the Alkires in providing a fresh, fun, dog-centric alternative to competing dog daycare franchise locations in their region.
“My mom, sister, and I have gone in as co-owners,” explains Jenny, who comes to us with an extensive background as a social worker for foster children, at-risk youth, and children with special medical needs.
In their new role as Hounds Town Franchise Owners, Jenny and Stacey will be overseeing the day-to-day operations of their Raleigh location while Andi, an attorney, will be maintaining her full-time position with the North Carolina Bar Association and pitching in with the operation of the family business where possible. (Louise, a retired lifelong dog-lover, will be serving as greeter and cuddler-in-chief, generally enjoying being surrounded by dogs!)
Though the sisters have long discussed the possibility of going into business together, and have always entertained the idea of investing in a dog daycare franchise, it’s possible that their entrepreneurial dreams would never have become a reality if not for a series of tragedies and life events that changed the course of their lives and career paths.
After meeting at Duke University, Andi and her husband married one year after graduation and moved to Florida for his two-year federal clerkship. The couple moved to Washington, D.C. in 2005, welcoming twin daughters Zoe and Riley, now 14, soon after. Andi originally planned to pursue a career as a children’s rights advocate on the Hill in Washington, D.C. but put those plans on hold following the devastating loss of her father in 2006. Wanting to be closer to her mother and sister, Andi and her young family moved back to the triangle area in North Carolina, welcoming their third daughter, Joelle Grace, now 11, not long after their return.
Six days after Joelle’s birth, Andi suffered a fluke stroke, which fortunately did not leave her with any lasting effects other than mild loss of peripheral vision. Only a few short months after that, her husband was involved in an accident with a drunk driver. Once again, the family was fortunate that his injuries were not severe; however, the scans he received at the hospital to make sure he had not been injured in the accident led to a shocking discovery of a brain tumor that had apparently been present for over 20 years.
“It was still, thank God, completely encapsulated,” says Andi, emphasizing that the couple’s close proximity to Duke University, one of the premier brain tumor centers in the world, allowed her husband to have life-saving surgery that has left him tumor-free for 11 years and counting.
In addition to the untimely loss of her father followed by the tragic departure of her grandmother, whom she took care of for several years, Jenny suffered her own brush with health complications in 2018. “I was having a tough year medically and left my job in July of that year, and was diagnosed with breast cancer in September,” she shares. In the grueling year that followed, Jenny underwent a double mastectomy and suffered through several bad bouts of chemotherapy. Now two years cancer-free as of October, Jenny sees her medical setback, along with everything else her family has gone through, as a positive thing that set her on her current course, leading her to realize her dreams of owning a dog daycare franchise and spend lots of time with her partner, sister, and mother.
“Honestly, it was the best thing that ever happened,” she says. “I think without that catalyst now, what we’ve been through, we would not be doing this journey. When (Hounds Town Founder) Mike (Gould) says, ‘You’ve gotta jump off that cliff,’ we jumped off that cliff! It’s now or never, and we could not be more excited.”
In fact, it was the perfect storm of Jenny’s illness, subsequent leave of absence from work, and recovery, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, that actually made 2020 the perfect year for the family to get serious about looking into dog daycare franchise ownership. She explains, “It was really the leap of faith- do we, in this industry, and with our backgrounds, and with COVID, do this now? And we really felt like it was a now-or-never and a good time, because of the change in schedules and because of me not going back into social work to be able to look into that.”
Looking to open a new chapter, the sisters began casually researching dog-related business opportunities, finding an ideal match with Hounds Town USA. “Stacey and I were just kind of doing research, and Andi, Mom, and I would always talk, and it just kind of became a natural fit with (Hounds Town Franchise Development Director) Rob (Taylor) to really move forward,” explains Jenny.
Despite knowing that their passion lay in caring for dogs in their community, the family never considered opening an independent doggie daycare. “We were always looking at dog daycare franchises,” Andi says.
“It really was kind of an easy answer that we weren’t going to go out on our own,” adds Jenny. “We wanted a model that we trusted- we wanted exactly what (Hounds Town President) Jackie (Bondanza) and Mike are offering.”
After taking a deeper dive into the Hounds Town franchise education process, the family was ready for their Discovery Day in Florida, which they spent meeting Mike and Jackie and touring two brand-new Hounds Town facilities in the cities of Sanford and Space Coast- something Jenny says was a major highlight for her. “[I loved] meeting (Sanford Franchise Owners) Paige and Shaun (Allen) and just seeing the place, and seeing the happiness knowing that they were a few weeks into opening and not seeing the stress,” she exclaims. “And then when you meet Jackie and Mike- I mean, honestly, what’s not to love?”
Andi agrees that meeting the Hounds Town Founders and hearing all about their robust support program helped seal the deal for her, along with an instant connection the sisters felt with Mike, whose Long Island accent and straight-shooting demeanor reminded them of their beloved father.
“It was everything for us!” Jenny says of the Discovery Day experience. “Nothing clicked where we said, ‘We can’t do this,’ or ‘We don’t want to do this,’ or ‘This isn’t going to work for us.’”
Dogs have always been a major part of the family’s life, and Jenny and Andi have fond memories of growing up in a dog-loving home. “I have always loved dogs,” Jenny says. “My sister and I have grown up having them. They are a part of our life.”
Jenny’s love for dogs carried through into adulthood when she and Stacey, a fellow social worker, adopted their first dog, Blue, together, soon after the tragic loss of Jenny’s grandmother. She recalls, “Stacey and I got a rescue dog about 8 years ago… that dog changed our lives. Stacey went from walking across the street when a dog showed up to loving this dog!” Several years after adopting Blue, the couple adopted a second rescue, Rubee Roo, named after her adorable kangaroo-like ears.
As pet parents of dogs with special emotional needs, Jenny and Stacey have a firsthand understanding of the need for a quality dog daycare franchise. She says, “Blue was in daycare for six and a half years so we could work, so we understand the luxury of it but we also understand the survival of it to be able to work.”
Andi, who has two “fur kids,” 8-year-old Wally and Hazel Grey, a Siberian husky puppy, also understands the great importance of having a trusted dog daycare franchise in the community. As dog lovers and advocates of animal welfare, the sisters are most excited about creating a welcoming environment for dogs of all shapes, sizes, abilities, and breeds in the Raleigh area.
“There was nothing more we wanted to do besides be together as a family, doing something we are passionate about, and just giving it our all,” says Jenny. “Yes, we want to make money and yes, we want to be successful, but honestly, our integrity in the community- how we’re going to care for the dogs, how we’re going to give back- that’s what drives us and has us wanting to do this.”
We’re thrilled to extend a warm welcome to Jenny, Andi, Louise, Stacey, and the rest of this amazing tight-knit family, and are so pleased you decided to join our pack!
Is now the right time for you to build an exciting new career out of your passion for dogs? Whether you want to be a hands-on owner/operator like Jenny and Stacey or a behind-the-scenes semi-absentee owner like Andi and Louise, Hounds Town is the perfect opportunity for dog lovers to find fulfillment, success, and FUN! Learn more about our dog daycare franchise opportunities here.