Joy Hagen, co-owner of Ruffing It Doggie Daycare and Overnight Center in Grand Forks, has gone to extreme lengths to keep her business open and workers paid during the coronavirus pandemic.

She laid herself off.

While some portions of her business are doing well – dog grooming is booked throughout the week – Hagen said business has fallen about 90% for daycare and boarding, at a time when it would normally be busy because of spring break. She stopped drawing a paycheck so her employees could keep getting paid.

“I’m trying to keep them employed. I have employees that are young and have houses to pay for, and rent and all that,” Hagen told the Herald. “I don’t want them to be without a job.”

Hagen said she goes to work to take care of necessary things like payroll, but is trying to preserve hours for her full-time staff.

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Plenty of the clients at Ruffing It are involved in the health care industry, according to Hagen, and keeping her business open is important to them as they work long shifts. Leaving a high-anxiety dog at home while working is not an option.

“We do have several, probably about six nurses off the top of my head, that they wouldn’t know what to do if we weren’t open,” Hagen said.

Ruffing It, like other animal care facilities, has implemented a policy of curbside pickup and dropoff. Personal items like collars and leashes are not allowed, and customers are asked to wait for the lobby to become empty before entering. Employees clean the area after a customer leaves.

“Every two hours we have an alarm go off that tells us we need to sanitize everything,” said Hagen. “All the door handles and stuff. If a customer does come in and uses the credit card machine, we’re sanitizing that.”

The business is running a special: Buy 20 days of daycare and get three free, or buy 10 days and get one free day.

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