For pet owners who don’t mind getting a little sudsy from time to time but can’t stand the hassle of bathing their pets at home, Sandy Paws Self Service Dog Wash in downtown Bradenton is just the place to go.
Bradenton’s only self-service dog wash features raised tubs with stairs and ramps and provides all natural shampoos and conditioners, professional hair dryers and grooming supplies so that dog owners can bathe their pups without having to worry about dealing with the post-bath cleanup at home.
In addition to grooming services, Sandy Paws retails all-natural pet care products, such as food grade diatomaceous earth for flea, tick and parasite control and “Flea Free” pet food supplements.
“I like to say we provide everything except for the dirty dog,” said Sandy Paws owner and groomer, Jeff Little.
After customers bathe their dogs, Little does the toenail trimming and any additional grooming necessary, depending on the coat and size of the dog.
Little, who previously worked for a mobile grooming business and ran a cat spa, opened Sandy Paws about two and a half years ago after discovering the concept of self–service dog washes in a trade magazine.
“When I first read about it, I was sure there was no way I could make a living by running a business where people come to wash their dogs for ten dollars a pop, but then I saw how popular these places are out west,” Little recalled.
After less than three years in business, Little estimates that he has between 700 and 800 regular customers who come to Sandy Paws to bathe their dogs once every six to eight weeks. On weekends, he says there are sometimes up to 15 dogs getting bathed, groomed and hanging out at the same time.
Margo Williams, who has been bringing her four dogs to Sandy Paws every three months for the past two years, said she appreciates the convenience the self-service dog wash provides.
“It was always such an ordeal to bathe all the dogs at home, but I love that the tubs here are standing-height so that I’m not bent over all the time — and the best part is that I don’t have to do my own laundry afterwards. I don’t miss all those dirty towels at all,” Williams said.
Little said that aside from Sandy Paws, the only self-service dog washes that he is aware of in the area are in Venice and Clearwater, but the concept is so popular that he plans to open a second store in the Sarasota or Tampa area.
Little also offers full grooming, nail trimming and de-shedding services by appointment — and not just for dogs. As a seasoned groomer, Little has plenty of experience bathing and grooming cats and is willing to take on even the most challenging kitties.
“The key to cats is knowing how to control them without actually restraining them,” said Little. “Trust is a big part of it, too. I seem to have that with both cats and dogs. They’re comfortable with me, and that really helps.”
“When I got a 13 year-old rescue dog from a shelter, Jeff immediately won her over,” Williams recalled. “I saw how gentle and good he is with animals and I’ve been coming ever since.”
Little volunteers his services by grooming dogs for the Humane Society and other rescue groups, on average between two and three times each week. He provides the doggy makeovers to help make the dogs more adoptable.
As a supporter of the no-kill movement, Little also gives free self-service bath coupons to anyone who adopts from a local rescue group.
“As far as I’m concerned any time a shelter animal finds a home, that’s a great thing — so I like to help out in whatever small ways I can.”
Sandy Paws is closed on Mondays, but open during regular business hours on Tuesday through Friday, from 8am – 4pm on Saturdays and from 10am – 2pm on Sundays by walk-in or appointment. To schedule an appointment or for more information, call Sandy Paws at 941-462-0538.