SUNNYSIDE — There is a playful melody of barks resonating from the well secured pasture play areas where dogs are attentively encouraged to be, well, themselves while being under the protective guardianship and passionate care of Megan Maltos, owner of The Spawt.
Following her dad’s passing, the former 10-year Starbucks associate who had worked in Seattle and Santa Ana, California and was in the process of taking the helm at one of the company’s chain store, Maltos decided the career path she was venturing down wasn’t super fulfilling.
The rewarding purpose she experienced from walking her Long Beach, Calif. friend’s dogs as people there would stop to inquire about her animal care services and a subsequent conversation with a roommate, inspired her to follow her heart which led her back home.
“I know that dogs make me happy, like over the moon, I just want to take care of dogs. And that’s when I decided to open a doggy daycare and boarding,” the 34-year-old elatedly recalled. She conveyed how her mom loves animals as well, making the enterprising idea an easy one to embrace.
Getting started was the hardest part of making her dream profession a reality, she said. When Maltos went to the county to begin the business application process, the upstart entrepreneur was handed a stack of papers with about 150 pages to fill out, which initially overwhelmed her.
“From the moment I applied and turned in my application, it took me about a year and a half to get it up and running,” Maltos stated.
She remembered pouring her building foundation a week prior to the first 2018 winter snowstorm that would blanket the lower valley throughout March. “So, my concrete and beautiful slabs sat here for about five months.”
The 10-foot-high snow drifts that accumulated on the eight-acre farming property couldn’t sidetrack the former Sunnyside High School graduate from overcoming her business obstacles and individual challenges she faced in moving life forward.
“Things just kept happening. There were a few times, I was just like honestly, this is never going to happen. Life is not in my favor right now. The county makes it super hard. It was just really tough. A lot of loopholes to go through,” Maltos voiced.
She described one instance when the county had originally required three handicap accessible bathrooms in her new facility and how the two parties went back and forth to obtain the waiver.
There were also days when Maltos relied on her contractor for strength to push through the exhausting building process.
In an accomplished tone she added, “Once it was up and running, it was so worth it. Because this is awesome. It’s just what I imagined, it’s perfect.” She believes strongly her dad would have been proud for realizing her purpose and building a future on the family farm.
Since opening her business at 351 W. Woodin Rd. in November last year, the first time entrepreneur has weathered the doldrums of winter, matched with a non-existent spring due in large part to COVID-19 and people staying-at-home, she said.
“It was super scary. Tons of anxiety. Did I do the right thing. Is this going to even take off? It was just really, really scary. Thank God, I have an amazing mom who was here to help me,” Maltos acknowledged.
The summer months of June through Labor Day weekend brought wagging tails of doggy excitement to The Spawt for daycare and extended boarding, rejuvenating her downhome commercial ambitions and animal rescue pursuits.
An essential benefit of being a business owner for Maltos is how she can utilize her professional resources and compassionate activism to make a difference in the community. Presently, she is working to form a grassroots lower valley rescue group, covering Grandview to Zillah. The nonprofit agency plans to offer low cost vaccines, spay and neutering services.
Beyond the city areas, the lack of county assistance and code enforcement support is visibly apparent, she said. It’s up to foster caregivers, volunteers and people like her to respond to rescue calls to help with the escalating dog abandonment problem, Maltos, who is also involved with Yakima Valley Pet Rescue reiterated.
“The need for animals to be rescued around here is huge but dogs are just treated terribly. I just don’t understand why you would want to get one if they’re not going to be in your family.”
Maltos said her facility can accommodate up to 32 dogs but is operating with 14 spacious kennels which she feels provides her canine guests the opportunity to fully experience and enjoy the interactive environment. She has room for a few more kennels if needed, however, her objective for keeping the capacity at a manageable level is to be able to enjoy and play with them.
“That’s my main concern. Is when people bring their dogs for boarding is that they are dog friendly and used to being around other dogs,” Maltos explained. “This is my dream for everybody to be running and playing, exercising and just having fun together.”
She makes all the dogs homemade treats while they’re at The Spawt and even sends a goody bag home with each departing guest – and what doesn’t taste good with bacon bits sprinkled all over the mouthwatering peanut butter and banana snack, regardless of who it’s made for.
“Once their dog has had the experience here, everybody leaves feeling like that was so awesome. They can leave and feel relaxed and comfortable, knowing their dog is in great hands,” Maltos caringly illustrated.