Next month, eight QFC stores in greater Seattle plan to deploy high-tech doghouses to give customers a safe, comfortable place to keep their pets outside as they shop.
Developed by “pet tech” startup DogSpot, the app-connected doghouses are temperature-controlled, camera-monitored, lockable and self-sanitizing. QFC, a Kroger Co. chain, will be the first grocery retailer chain in the Pacific Northwest to have DogSpot houses at its stores.
Plans call for the DogSpot houses to become available in late May at QFC stores in Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, Ballard, Wallingford, University Village, Kirkland and Redmond, Wash. The service will be offered free to QFC customers. Dog owners can sign up in advance by downloading the DogSpot app, where they also will be able to find doghouse locations.
"QFC is leading the way in new innovations that span health, fitness and fresh food, and now we're proud to pioneer DogSpot because it enables us to champion our four-footed community as well," stated Suzy Monford, president of Bellevue, Wash.-based QFC, which operates 62 stores in western Washington and Portland, Ore.
"Our primary goal is to offer a friendly, uplifting shopping experience for all of our customers, no matter their situation. These DogSpot houses at our stores will offer a safe and comfortable shelter for our customers' dogs and eliminate a barrier to shopping that pet owners often run up against."
Brooklyn, N.Y.-based DogSpot said its partnership with QFC came about through the understanding that Seattle has more dogs than children and 97% of dog owners consider their dogs as family members. Health codes, however, prohibit pets from going inside grocery stores.
The DogSpot app’s camera feed, dubbed the "Puppy Cam," allows customers to keep watch on their dog while in the store. Meanwhile, the DogSpot structure offers shelter from rain, and its temperature control heats the floor in colder months and provides air conditioning in the summer.
When the QFC locations launch, Seattle will be DogSpot's largest city network. The company, founded in 2015 as Dog Parker, is currently engaged in a national expansion, with more than 60 doghouses in 14 states.
DogSpot co-founder Chelsea Brownridge with her dog Winston.
DogSpot recently unveiled plans to place 300 more houses nationwide this year. Its website lists Stop & Shop supermarkets in Port Washington, N.Y., and East Somerville, Mass., as among the upcoming doghouse locations.
"People who have dogs get it; you don't get a dog to leave them cooped up inside all day,” DogSpot Co-Founder and CEO Chelsea Brownridge said in a statement. “The best part of their day is going out on walks around town, heading to the dog park and spending time with you. We're making it possible to say, 'Wanna go for a walk?' more often and more safely than before."