How to solve pet pee needs in the middle of the night when you live in a high-rise apartment can be a real challenge. A San Diego start-up company has come up with a unique product that helps both property managers and tenants.
By John Triplett
Rental Housing Journal
As an individual living in a high rise condo or apartment, one can imagine how difficult it can be when your pet needs to go out to pee in the middle of the night.
Tenants don’t have the option of opening the back door to a large grass backyard. It requires getting dressed, leaving the unit, going in the elevator, and eventually outside.
In a city like San Diego and other metro areas embracing and building denser multifamily housing, moving from suburban environments to urban neighborhoods creates issues and difficulties for dogs and their owners when they need a grassy spot.
Some dogs handle the adjustment to high rise living without incident. For others, it can be a challenge.
Solving the pet pee needs in apartments
A start-up company in San Diego has come up with a unique approach to pet pee issues that offers property managers and tenants the “backyard alternative for high rise living pooches.” Urban Dog Solutions is subscription service that provides San Diego high rise dog owners with a fresh grass pee patch delivered to the door. In addition, a member of their team returns in person to clean and replace the grass on a weekly basis.
Founders Tricia Crespin and Oscar Urteaga started Urban Dog Solutions originally as 92101 Dog Solutions but changed the name of the business as it grew.
‘I changed the name to Urban Dog Solutions from 92101 Dog Solutions because our growth came very quickly. I never imagined to have grown so quickly. 92101 Dog Solutions was a need I saw when I moved to San Diego, but then I realized the need was much bigger than just Downtown San Diego,” Crespin said.
Here is the story on how it got started
“I met Tricia, my business partner and co-founder, shortly after she moved to San Diego from Arizona and brought her elderly dog with her. The dog had a heart murmur and had to take medicine that caused the dog to frequently urinate.
“Living in high-rise condo in East Village, she was having to get up multiple times in the middle of the night, take him to the elevator, then downstairs outside where there were a lot of homeless people and it was not necessarily safe to take out the dog,” he said.
“So I recommended to her some different products. Most were dog pee trays you can buy at pet stores and online. We tried every product and service we could find, and nothing met our expectations, and the dog did not utilize it at all.
“One day we decided to buy a piece of sod and put it on one plastic tray. Given the texture and scent of real grass, the dog ended up going potty immediately. We realized that we needed real grass to curb the dog’s bathroom needs,” he said.
“Unfortunately after a couple days of use, it started attracting some flies. Tricia’s brother worked on a farm in Washington State and we collaborated with him to formulate a deodorizer – we call it the, ‘secret sauce’ to reduce smells and flies. We can’t say what is in it, but we place the deodorizer under the grass to absorb all the liquids, prevent flies and it doesn’t smell.
“After much trial and error to develop our own real grass pee patch, our friends and neighbors started to inquire how to get one of their own and at that moment we realized we had a business idea,” he said.
How do property managers and leasing agents feel about this?
“The property managers and leasing agents we have interacted with support our service because they see it as a way to help keep their existing units clean and prevent damage caused by dog residents,” Urteaga said.
“Unlike our competitors that just provide a product, our business is unique because we actually service and replace the grass patch. The grass patch has a five-layer system, so no liquids make it through to the floor or carpet.
“You would be very surprised, but some of our customers – the first time we walk into their unit and all they had put down newspapers and pee pads. It was pretty gross. So we believe 92101 Dog Solutions helps property managers and leasing agents keep their units much cleaner with residents that have dogs,” he said.
“Our business is nothing new. We are not re-inventing the wheel,” Urteaga said.
“What we did was we saw a need and a demand. We looked at some existing services and products that are out there and we figured out a way to make it better,” he said.
He said right now they only service San Diego and will soon be announcing plans to expand their service offerings to include a full service dog concierge list of amenities, such as dog walking, dog sitting and vet appointment pick up/drop offs.
“Before we decided to pursue it as a legitimate business, we looked at the market and numbers. We found that in the 92101 downtown zip code, there are approximately 35,000 residents, and about one-third of them have pets, mostly dogs. One of the biggest downsides of living in downtown San Diego is that there is not a lot of grass space and open parks. There are very few open parks or dog parks to allow these animals to do their business. So that is the demand we had identified.
“This service does not replace dog walking – all dogs need exercise but rather offers an easy and convenient option for the bathroom needs of high rise living pooches,” he said.
How does the service work?
Urban Dog Solutions uses high quality Fescue grass that is dense and lush which dogs really enjoy. Customers can choose deliveries to occur on Saturday mornings, typically between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., or on Monday evenings between 5:30 and 7:00 p.m.
“Most of our customers are busy working professionals, so we arrive at our customers units and change/replace the pee patch in less than 5 minutes,” he said. They have a growing customer base.
Some of the top questions about the service
Question: Do tenants have to get property manager approval for this product? Have any apartments refused your service?
Answer: No. We have not ever needed property manager approval, and we have not received any critical feedback either. We have met with several leasing agents and property managers, and all welcomed our services. And now property managers/owners are calling us for our services.
Question: How much does the service cost?
Answer: For dogs 25 pounds or less, our standard size is $130 per month, which includes the pick up and delivery of the fresh grass pee patch for four weeks. For dogs between 25 pounds and 50 pounds there is an XL version that costs $180 per month. For dogs bigger than 50 pounds we can now customize their patches; for pricing please contact us.
Question: Should I pick up the poop from the grass pad?
Answer: We provide our customers with poop bags to clean up after their dogs.
Question: I have two dogs, do I need two pads? How many dogs can one pad handle?
Answer: Depending on the breed of the dog, some may become territorial of their grass patches. But most of our customers that have two or three small dogs typically share the grass pee patch. We always offer advice and solutions for any requests our customers bring us.
Question: Do I keep it inside or can it go on my outside balcony?
Answer: Yes, you can keep it indoors or leave it on your balcony. Our unique five-layer system absorbs all liquids, and does not attract flies or create smells. Obviously, the grass eventually dies off after a full week of use, but we replace it the following week
Question: Do you plan to expand from San Diego?
Answer: Yes! July 2019 we launched Nationwide Shipping!
We still offer our in person service here in San Diego all the way up the coast to Los Angeles and launched our in service in Arizona.
About Urban Dog Solutions