In early April. Heather Haggerty was hoping her dog training business would financially survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Lucky Dog Academy has survived, partly due to generous clients fundraising on her behalf,, she said.
Yet Haggerty initially delayed re-opening Lucky Dog Academy in Plainfield because of confusing guidelines from the State of Illinois.
Haggerty said didn’t want to “bend the rules” or “get special treatment.”
“I was just waiting for the state to actually tells us what we could do,” Haggerty said. “If someone got sick, I would not want to live with that.”
After talking with other dog trainers who had reached out to the State of Illinois for guidance and seemed to receive mixed messages, Haggerty decided to delay opening Lucky Dog Academy and wait for Phase 4.
But on May 28, Illinois updated its guidelines. On those guidelines is the following: “Outdoor and indoor dog training classes are permissible, provided social distancing is complied with and no more than 10 people (including the trainer).”
This doesn’t mean Haggerty will reopen right away. And when does, she will most likely start with offering private training only, she said.
Furthermore, before she opens up group training classes to the community, Haggerty needs to complete classes with clients in the middle of group classes with their dogs before the shutdown.
Yet even with the green light from the State of Illinois, Haggerty feels she needs time to carefully implement all guidelines and apply them to her business.
For instance, some clients may not be comfortable returning to group classes, she said. Yet the point of group classes is to help dogs not become distracted by the presence of other dogs, Haggerty added.
So having other dogs present at those classes would be important, she said.
Other considerations for re-opening include separate entrances and exists for clients and scheduling classes with sufficient time in between those classes for proper disinfection of all surfaces, Haggerty said.
For now, Haggerty is estimating a soft re-opening could happen in mid to late June. Haggerty stressed again that safety is her main concern.
“The pandemic isn’t over just because we’re done with it,” Haggerty said. “I want to go slowly and have an understanding of how this will work…If the numbers [of covid cases] stay low, I’ll feel better about this.”