West Orange resident returns to open new pet resort

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  • | 9:44 a.m. July 30, 2015
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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OCOEE — When creating the ideal pet grooming and boarding business, entrepreneur Mike Cavinder didn’t need to look any further than his own furry family member.

Taking inspiration from his English Springer Spaniel, Gunner, Cavinder is nearing completion on Paws & Play and hopes to open the new Ocoee business by Labor Day.

“We’re very excited to be at the point where we’ll be opening soon,” he said. “We really want to start this community. I know there’s a need for it.”

Once the doors open, customers can look for Gunner. With spotted fur and floppy ears, Cavinder’s puppy is already taking advantage of the space available at Paws & Play.

With more than 10,000 square feet of space, Paws & Play offers dog owners a safe and active environment for their pets. By constructing the facility from the ground up, Cavinder said he was able to build exactly what he wants to offer clients. 

“We want to provide a lot of area for dogs to run,” he said. “With the grooming and the other amenities, it’s kind of hard to go into an older building.”

With more than 3,000 square feet of indoor play, 90 8-foot-by-4-foot suites equipped with automatic water, an outdoor play area and a place for grooming, Paws & Play has turned out to be exactly what he envisioned.

Cavinder was born in Indianapolis and moved to Ocoee in 1992. He attended Windermere Elementary School, Lakeview Middle School and Olympia High School.

Following high school, Cavinder enrolled at the University of Florida, where he was introduced to the boarding and grooming industry. In one of his graduate entrepreneurship courses, an entrepreneur spoke about his facility.

“I was really just blown away about the market and about his company,” Cavinder said.

After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in business management and a master’s degree in entrepreneurship, Cavinder moved to Chicago. His work required quite a bit of traveling. Because of this, he had to find places to board his dog, which he said became difficult.

“It’s challenging to find a quality place that you’re willing to take your dog,” he said.

Three years ago, Cavinder decided to implement his idea for a specialty dog-boarding business. Looking for the perfect land and obtaining the proper permits took some time, but it led him to his new location on State Road 50 just east of State Road 429.

During the process of putting together a team of employees, Cavinder said he has seen people apply that are just looking for a job. He hopes to find people who love to work with animals.

“What’s going to set us apart is our people,” he said. “We want the best and brightest people that are truly passionate about it. You can’t teach passion.”

And although many other boarding facilities offer plush couches and televisions for dogs to watch, Paws & Play will offer what dogs really want: playtime.

“We’re just about the play, getting dogs to socialize,” Cavinder said. “We want them to be clean and tired when you pick them up.”

Cavinder will operate Paws & Play with his father — something he hopes will foster a sense of family.

“We recognize our customers as loved members of the family,” he said. “At Paws & Play, we are going to care for them as such.”

Contact Emilee Jackson at [email protected].


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