Precious Paws celebrates 20 years

Kellie Taylor, owner of Precious Paws in Rockmart, said that as her business celebrates 20 years this month, it’s now in the third generation of keeping local pets groomed and providing day care.

Kevin Myrick

It's probably the busiest time of the year for one local shopkeeper who said that a third generation is now starting in their family-run business in downtown Rockmart that turned 20 this month.

Kellie Taylor said that Precious Paws hit their milestone at their 221 South Marble Street location earlier this month as she worked on giving a small, fluffy-haired Shih Tzu who wasn't quite done with it's haircut, it's owner paying for a summer trim to help the pup feel cooler and beat the heat.

It's one of at least 20 she'll give at least a trim if not a full on styling, and her customers stand on a leash and enjoy losing some of their thick coats during a hot July day.

This part is easy, said Taylor, who started in the job at 15 while her mother worked as a groomer.

Now her 16 year old daughter is involved in Precious Paws as they look to a growing future, Taylor said.

She said that with a large average of customers per day taking advantage of several services Precious Paws provides - from grooming and nail trims to providing overnight stays and daycare for dogs who need friends to play with while owners are busy at work - and she's getting to know a large number of the community's pets.

The hardest part of the job isn't the constant influx of pets, or even when her canine or feline customers might not always be on board to get groomed.

Taylor said it's when a customer passes on that the job gets particularly difficult as they mourn with the owners over the loss of a friend.

"We get so attached to them," she said. "Other than their owners, no one sees these dogs more than us. The vet only sees them when they are sick or hurt, and we see these dogs between every two to six weeks. Some dogs we see every two weeks for their entire life. So when you see these dogs every two weeks for their entire lives, they're like your own, and we watch these dogs grow and we probably handle them more than their owner does."

That amount of care for their customers means that Taylor has also spotted health problems in dogs and cats that owners sometimes miss, like signs of diabetes in pets or even cancer.

But the hard part of the job is really ensuring that the owners remain comfortable through the entire grooming, and sometimes boarding, process.

"The difficult end of it is usually the parents," she said. "The parents generally if they're going to have anxiety about leaving the dog or cat, usually the anxiety is on their end."

Once dogs and cats at her business get placed in the back area to wait their turn for a trim, she said they join with other pets who are waiting and get comfortable while they enjoy socializing with their animal friends.

"It's like dropping kids off at daycare," Taylor said. "If mom is upset and doesn't want to leave the kid, and the kid doesn't want to stay either, and as soon as the mom is gone, they see their friends and they're fine."

Most pets who come in are repeat customers, she said, and "walk in like they own the place."

Taylor said she's gotten a lot of referrals in her business over the years due to her ability to work with sometimes difficult pets as well, those who aren't inclined to get their nails trimmed and have been knocked out at the veterinarian's office previous times to get the job done.

Business has also increased over the years due to additional services being provided, like Precious Paws' option for a pet hotel and daycare services for those who don't want to leave their dogs and cats alone during the day.

"That's mainly through growth in the area and people getting used to the idea of bringing their pets to us for an overnight stay, or during the day to be with other dogs," she said.

Another significant change she's seen in the past 20 years in business is the change in Animal Control policy in Polk County, one she's been deeply involved in. When Precious Paws first started in the 1990s, there was no countywide Animal Control service, much less local officers. She said her family has been well involved in the efforts to ensure that stray pets find forever homes, and with the addition of Animal Control services now the county she's helping with pet population control.

Taylor especially gave high praise to Cedartown-Polk County Humane Society President Charlotte Harrison and the group's overall efforts to work toward reducing the population of stray pets in Polk County.

"She's (Harrison) done phenomenal with that," Taylor said. "We're glad to say that we've been with her every step of the way."

Taylor said that Precious Paws will continue with their support of the Humane Society as they continue to offer nail clipping service at the organization's fundraising events, and help with donations.