Cat cafes are all the rage. But what about dog lovers?
Sarah Wolfgang hopes to open the first dog cafe in America and is currently running an Indiegogo campaign to raise $200,000 to jumpstart the project. Much like the Little Lions cat café in New York City, the coffee joint is intended as a place to drink coffee (provided by Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co.), cuddle with critters and introduce pets with potential adopters.
Wolfgang was introduced to the idea of dog cafes in Korea, where Wolfgang used to live and volunteer in a private animal shelter. In Korea, she says, dogs are allowed to roam freely in shelters, providing a low-stress environment for animals and humans to connect.
“A lot of dogs weren’t given a chance [to be adopted in Los Angeles] simply because they seemed ‘too shy’ or 'too bark-y’ under the high-stress, shelter environment,” says Wolfgang.
With The Dog Café Wolfgang hopes to change that. She’s looking into big industrial zoning areas that will allow the cafe to house dogs overnight in a kennel area, taking dogs out of the shelters. Currently, her goal is to find at least 104 dogs “forever homes” in the cafe’s first year of business.
Of course, opening a dog cafe that is essentially two separate locations – one for preparing and serving food and one to serve as a sanitary space for the dogs to live – is expensive and $200,000 is a large sum to raise via crowd funding. While a number of animal cafes have relied on crowdfunding, not all have reached their goals, including a cat café in Los Angeles that raised about 3 percent of its $350,000 goal.
Fortunately, Wolfgang has backup plans. She is currently reaching out to investors and, if all else fails, says she would look into taking out a loan to turn her dream into a reality.
“I saw a problem that was capable of being fixed,” says Wolfgang. “The Dog Cafe will truly be an amazing way for people to see shelter dogs outside of the shelter environment and see each dog in their true personality.”