Patrick Flynn founded Patrick's Pet Care in March 2012 as a dog walking and pet sitting company in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC. His values for operating a pet care business are based on a genuine love of animals, lifelong learning, fostering local community, a commitment to do the right thing, and a personal approach to meeting the needs of all the animals and people who depend on Patrick's Pet Care. Fundamentally, Patrick aims to create thriving relationships between people and their animal companions, using science and consent based methods without fear, pain or force. His business has been recognized by readers of Washingtonian as a Top Pet Care Provider, and has been voted “Best of DC” three times by readers of Washington City Paper.
A Genuine Love of Animals
Patrick grew up in a household known for taking in unwanted pets and providing a safe, loving home for them. There was rarely a time when Patrick’s house didn’t have an extra animal (or five). Often the visitors were dogs, cats, and rabbits, but there were also appearances by other species like birds, rodents, fish, snakes, and once a very large snapping turtle. Patrick’s family even took care of horses a few times – but they didn’t stay with them! Not all of the animals that Patrick’s family cared for were cute, cuddly and well behaved. Some had been abused, some had been taught bad habits, and some were just mean. But over the years Patrick learned that if you provide consistently humane treatment and really communicate with the animal, even the most frustrating cases will cooperate.
Patrick was born with a rare genetic disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. The disorder has many side effects and complications that can be managed. But to overcome the physical problems, he had to wear immobilizing braces on both legs every night as a toddler, and then had both legs surgically reconstructed twice: once in his early teens, and again in his early twenties. Today, no one would have any idea Patrick has Ehlers-Danlos except by his empathy for those people and animals who are struggling to overcome adversity. He serves on the National CEO Commission for Disability Employment and strives to make Patrick’s Pet Care a model of how small businesses can successfully employ those with disabilities of all kinds.
Patrick has never stopped learning. He regularly attends pet related conferences across the country and around the world. After graduating from Georgetown University, he became a certified force-free dog trainer, as well as a certified fear-free dog groomer, and is pursuing a second master’s degree in clinical animal behaviour. He insists that all the staff at Patrick’s Pet Care fulfill continuing education requirements to hone their skills and enhance their knowledge to be the best at their job, and he gives them time and money to do it. Patrick makes a point to provide substantive, paid internships that teach real life, transferable skills to young people. The company also provides scholarship opportunities for staff to obtain advanced training in pet specializations that they are passionate about.
Fostering Local Community
Patrick believes that his business doubles as a community development organization. He has deliberately opened locations in developing, gentrifying neighborhoods, in formerly dilapidated buildings, and after transforming the buildings he hires and trains local residents of those communities to work in them. Patrick maintains strong relationships with other local businesses, schools, and non-profit organizations to make every effort to ensure his business is a vibrant and participating part of the local community where people can trust that their family will be taken care of, where we can all learn from one another, and celebrate our diversity. Whether it is hosting a clean up day at the local dog park, inviting neighborhood children to participate in puppy socialization circles, or hosting a free dog vaccination clinic, Patrick’s business is a company that specializes in pets as much as community. His work has been awarded more than $175,000 in competitive government grants to further this mission.
A Commitment to Do the Right Thing
Patrick believes every human being and animal deserves to be treated with dignity. He also believes that no animal should be subjected to fear, pain, or force. All staff at Patrick’s Pet Care are required to be fear-free certified. In addition, Patrick believes every company should maintain and adhere to corporate social responsibility standards. Patrick believes all employees deserve to be paid a District of Columbia living wage, receive health insurance coverage, and generous paid time off to rest and have fun away from work so that they can provide the best care to our clients when they are at work. Patrick’s Pet Care buys its supplies and equipment from local and privately owned small businesses, not global conglomerates. In his spare time Patrick advocates for enhanced animal welfare laws such as DC’s “Momma’s Law” (which the company’s Brookland location is dedicated to). He is an active member of DC Voters for Animals, and lobbies for the creation of a national dog grooming standard of practice and regulation.
Dog Montessori School
Patrick’s journey to start a Montessori school for dogs began in Luang Prabang, Laos in 2018 when he visited Mandalo Elephant Conservation and met with the project director, Prasop Tipprasert. Prasorp explained that the elephants at the non-riding conservation are asked (not told) what to do, and are rewarded (with bananas) for doing what they were asked. The entire operation was based on choice, consent, and education. Most importantly, it placed the well-being of the elephants first. Patrick’s experience at Mandalo reminded him of growing up in New England, where choice based Montessori programs provided an alternative (and ridiculed at the time) option for educating children. He wondered if the two could be combined with his love of dogs, and the model for Patrick’s Montessori School for Dogs was born.