Dyker Heights’ beloved “dog whisperer” is closing the doors to his daycare and boarding service at the end of the month — citing a lack of sustainable business amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“It has been getting progressively more difficult to sustain the business during the pandemic. With traveling at a minimum, business is a small fraction of what it used to be,” said Matt Signorile, the owner of Chasing Tails on 66th Street near Fort Hamilton Parkway in a Jan. 4 Facebook post.
With families forced to hunker down at home, the dog’s boarding business has taken a serious hit as many dog owners are no longer traveling for a vacation or to work — so they don’t need their pets watched.
“I would need 50+ dogs boarding a night again to have any chance at staying open,” Signorile wrote in the post, which announced a Jan. 31 closure. “Unfortunately, this just is not a possibility currently and there is no change in sight.”
During quarantine. he kept the daycare open to support his clients who were essential workers but as time went on and he reopened fully, Signorile says he saw a severe decline in the number of canines coming in for daycare and boarding — going from nearly 80 dogs on a Saturday night in 2019 to possibly five or six dogs over a weekend in 2020.
“I stayed open for the essential workers, I have a lot of doctors, a lot of nurses,” said Signorile. “Then after a while, we needed to open back up and boarding just never came back.”
Neighbors expressed remorse over the impending closure of the beloved doggy daycare — many claiming Chasing Tails was the only place they felt comfortable leaving their furry companion.
“I’ve never met anyone who loves dogs more than me — than Matt. I wouldn’t trust leaving my Sergio with anyone else but him,” said Linda Antonio, a longtime customer. “To follow his Facebook page and see pictures he posts and the joy those dogs exhibit while in his care says it all.”
More than just a daycare, customers said Signorile had an unmatched way with animals and was an invaluable resource with pets that were experiencing behavioral issues.
“He is like the dog whisperer in so many ways,” Antonio said. “Dogs who have behavioral issues become saints with him and are able to be socialized with other dogs while at the daycare.”
Signorile credits the success of his business to his dedicated staff of past and present, all of whom he said have given 100 percent of their efforts since the day they first came on board, despite never being able to pay them the wages he would have wanted.
“This place isn’t as good as it is without the people that have been here,” Signorile said. “They work so hard for me. These people gave me their everything and they never complained. If they ever complained.. they never did to me.”
To ease Signorile’s transition from operating Chasing Tails, neighbors are pouring their support into a GoFundMe fundraiser — organized by longtime customer Margarita Polyak — which has raised over $7,000 since it was launched on Jan. 5.
“Matt has given so much to the community and all of his clients, so I think it’s time that we give back to him,” Polyak wrote on the donation site. “Any help is appreciated as Matt has to move on from Chasing Tails and we wish him the best of luck in whatever the future brings. “
Signorile said the funds raised unfortunately will not help keep the daycare’s doors open as he needs to have pets regularly boarded there to buoy his business through the pandemic. But, the so-called “dog whisperer” expressed an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the support from his community in his future endeavors.
“My clients are apparently looking out for me personally which is just the best feeling,” Signorile told Brooklyn Paper.
Keep an eye out for Signorile in the future, as he says he does not suspect he can stay away from his passion for animals for too long and hopes to relaunch his business if he can find the right location and the timing is right.
“I would be open to reopening if the right situation came,” Signorile said. “The right location, the right size, the right business partner. I could see myself coming back to this field for happiness reasons.”